It never fails: when I start writing a blog post and do some research to fill in the background, I come up with too many intriguing avenues for research, given the time constraints of posting a blog entry on the anniversary of a particular record. Either I need to start writing farther ahead, or I need to continually update past entries. Decisions, decisions...
The research for yesterday's post brought up the following issues, all well worth further investigation:
- the severity of the winter of 1917-1918. Even brief web searches indicate that this was a prodigious winter, not just in North America but in Europe as well (where those fighting World War I also had to contend with it). Wilson (1922) published a note in the Auk on bird changes in Kentucky following this winter, but I'd love to know what was going on in Jersey after that year. Then there is this photo, taken the same day the American Three-toed Woodpecker was seen in West Englewood, showing an Arctic landscape that was, in fact, Evansville, Indiana.
- J. M. Johnson. He may have been one of the first rangers (perhaps "nature educator" is a better term in this case) if this page refers to the same J. M. Johnson whose sister possibly saw the woodpecker. As for Ms. Johnson, puzzling out her identity really requires some serious digging through census records. Was she just a sibling with a bird-crazy brother, or was she a naturalist in her own right?
Finally, the combination of American Three-toed Woodpecker with Red-cockaded Woodpecker on the NJ state list puts the state into select company. Pennsylvania puts both on its hypothetical list only.
Wilson, Gordon. 1922. Bird Changes Caused by the Winter of 1917-1918. Auk 39:270. PDF here