SIX LITTLE CHICKADEES: A Scientist and Her Work with Birds by Ada Graham

SIX LITTLE CHICKADEES: A Scientist and Her Work with Birds

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Cordie Stanwood was walking home from town. It was a bright, spring morning in Maine nearly eighty years ago. She looked up and saw a crow fly over the road. The crow was carrying something in its beak. Cordie saw a second crow. It followed close behind the first one. . . . She walked slowly toward the woods. . . . She watched the crow family come and go. . . . Could I keep a crow-baby at home? she wondered. . . . She made up her mind to adopt one of the chicks in that nest high in the tree. I will learn how crows behave, she told herself."" So opens the story of Cordie Stanwood, who is only later and almost incidentally revealed to be a grown-up, implicitly a real one, who became famous for her observations and photos of birds. As Graham tells it, it is pet crow Beppo's death by shooting that moves Cordie to ""go on trying to discover how birds live."" On the advice of Frank M. Chapman of the American Museum of Natural History, she buys a camera, observes a family of chickadees, and publishes a story with photos in The House Beautiful. Other publications follow, and then a job offer--which is withdrawn because of her sex. (""Who would carry her equipment into the woods? Who would go with her to dangerous places?"") So, it's back to the local woods, where ""In all she made over 40 bird studies."" Her home in Ellsworth, Maine, is now a museum. A redundant afterword--which might better be a foreword--explains ""This is a true story. It describes a woman who worked very hard to learn about birds and to tell other people about them. She took many notes. She kept diaries. She also made photographs and wrote articles."" (Over 30 photos, printed by Christopher Ayres from her glass plates, are included here.) The book is really just a lifeless expansion on this afterword, written in a jerky, boring primer style, with no enlivening angle on Cordie (as she's called throughout) or her work.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1982
Publisher: Four Winds