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KNOXVILLE — Noted author and conservation planner Phillip Hoose, known for his work documenting the history and rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker, will culminate a visit to the University of Tennessee with a public talk at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at the University Club.

Hoose, whose talk is entitled, “The Race to Save the Lord God Bird: Fighting to Save Species on the Verge of Extinction,” garnered multiple awards and honors for his book about the decline and believed extinction of the woodpecker, which earned the nickname “Lord God Bird” in the early 20th century. The nickname arose from the bird’s unusually large size and striking features.

The bird returned to a prominent place in American life after its apparent rediscovery after 60 years in the Big Woods of Arkansas in 2004. Hoose took part in the discovery.

Hoose’s book describes the story of the bird and those who sought it out for various reasons. His book prominently features the late James Tanner, a long time UT professor and department head, who spent much of his life and career tracking the ivory-billed woodpecker. Tanner, whose widow, Nancy, still resides in Knoxville, was a leader among the ornithologists who sought to find the bird and prevent its demise.

“Phil Hoose’s visit represents a great opportunity for people inside and outside the university to learn from a speaker with a truly unique voice,” said Christine Boake, professor and head of UT’s ecology and evolutionary biology department. “His visit is made more special by Dr. Tanner’s ties to the efforts to save the ivory-billed woodpecker.”

Prior to the rediscovery in 2004, the bird was last seen in the U.S. in 1944. The bird, which was briefly caught on video in 2004, is still the subject of extensive searches to determine if a potential mating pair exists.

Hoose’s talk, which will be free and open to the public, will recount both the story of the bird’s believed demise and its rediscovery in the context of the growing biodiversity crisis around the world.

In addition to his work with conservation issues and the ivory-billed woodpecker, Hoose has earned praise for his work as a science writer, children’s writer and general author through the years. During his visit to UT, Hoose will address a number of groups:

-At 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, at Ijams Nature Center, he will give a presentation for children and young readers on the ivory-billed woodpecker.

-At 11 a.m., Monday, Sept. 18, Hoose will take part in an informal discussion with graduate and undergraduate students at UT interested in conservation on how to construct effective large-scale cooperative conservation projects.

-At 7 p.m. on Monday, Hoose will talk with UT education students in a talk entitled, “Bringing Science to Life with Stories for Young Readers.”

-At 3:40 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 19, Hoose will address journalism students and current and aspiring science writers from around UT on “Heroes, Thugs and Last-Minute Rescues: The Power of Narrative in Science Writing.”

Hoose’s visit is sponsored by UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in the College of Arts and Science. For more information on Hoose and a complete schedule of his visit to UT, visit


Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409,
Lynn Champion (865-974-4676,
Christine Boake (865-974-3065,