Experiences of an Ornithologist Along the Highways and Byways of Boliva. Collecting Birds in an Isolated, Magnificent Land in the Nineteen Thirties. By Melbourne A. Carriker, Jr. Co-edited by his son Melbourne R. Carriker and Robert C. Dalgleish. Published by AuthorHouse. 452 pp. Many black and white photographs. Bird in color on cover. Price: softcover (ISBN 1420882901) $13.50, electronic copy (1420883526) $5.95. Available from firstname.lastname@example.org
An extraordinarily vivid account by intrepid ornithologist Melbourne Armstrong Carriker, Jr. of his three expeditions in Bolivia collecting birds for the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences, travelling from the torrid tropic jungles to the frozen mountain valleys. He collected a total of 8,705 bird specimens, including some new to science, and many new species of bird lice. These species are listed in two extensive appendices in the book.
The author's flair for narration, perceptive observations, memory of detail, fondness of people, knowledge of Spanish and of South America, and ability to get along with Latin Americans, enrich his writing. His lively, colorful, descriptive, often humorous, piquant accounts make highly entertaining reading. He succeeded in transmiting to the reader his own special pleasure in exploration, especially of the high mountains, which he loved, and his keen enjoyment of congenial people. At the same time he did not minimiize the disappointments and hardships that were almost daily companions, and these, too, come across vividly, sometimes poignantly. Incredibly, Carriker survived his travels without major accidents, though he did experience several close calls. He held strong opinions, which he did not hesitate to express; and was strong-minded, a characteristic that was often helpful to him in close adversarial situations.
Carriker was one of the great early naturalists of Central and Northern South America. His long time colleague, Dr. K. C. Emerson of the Smithsonian Institution, once commented of him that changes in ecolgy, laws, and concerns for environment probably would not permit another person to duplicate his collecting efforts. He was also exceptional in that he was not only an expert in the study of tropical bird fauna, but also of bird chewing lice.