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Publishers WeeklyStarred Review.
For more than four years, ornithologist Chilton visited 30 cities to examine and document 55 stuffed ducks and 9 eggs, all that remains of the long-extinct Labrador Duck. Stuffed ducks might seem a dry topic, but Chilton finds humor in almost all situations, from cultural clashes to the idiosyncrasies of taxidermists, resulting in an entertaining and educational travelogue. Chilton traces the known history of the Labrador Duck by visiting breeding and migration grounds from Newfoundland to Long Island and reviewing the travel and bird study journals of John James Audubon (adding insights like, "I suspect that Audubon felt the need to get away from his creditors for a while, having long since given up all hope of a real income in order to study and paint birds"). Traveling through London, Paris, Dublin, Chicago, Dresden, Vienna, Prague, St. Petersburg and a host of other cities, Chilton shares astute observations while seamlessly interweaving tales of friends, crime, "bastard children, the richest man in Great Britain, and America's richest murderer." Anyone interested in travel, ecology, ornithology or a well-told story should find Chilton's quest a great read.
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