THE CURSE OF THE LABRADOR DUCK. MY OBSESSIVE QUEST TO THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION. By Glen Chilton. Simon & Schuster, New York, USA, 2009: x + 305 pages, 10 black and white figures, 1 map. ISBN: 978-1-4391-0247-3; 978-1-4391-2499-4 (ebook). $25.00 (hardcover).—For those whose interest in birds extends beyond another tick on their life list, extinct birds often provide a source of intense fascination. Each species has its own allure, but one that is also coupled with an air of unattainability, like a photograph of a beautiful woman on the obituary page. The Labrador Duck (Camptorhynchus labradorius), the first endemic North American bird to disappear historically, about 1875, remains one of the most perversely enigmatic of extinct birds. Although known from a fair number of specimens (at least 55 still exist), few have reliable data and virtually nothing is known about the...

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