Richard Wheeler: What a Long-Gone Bird Tells Us About Today

What a Long-Gone Bird Tells Us About Today

Richard Wheeler wants to tell you a story about a bird--a fine but flightless bird that lived a long time ago in the North Atlantic. "A magnificent creature," he calls the great auk, "an extraordinary paddler and swimmer." Sitting on the deck of a Wareham, Mass., home adorned by portraits and a sculpture of the 2-ft.-tall black-and-white bird, the shaggy-maned Wheeler scowls when he thinks about the great auk's fate. During the 18th and 19th centuries, commercial fishing vessels scoured the waters off North America for cod. Since the all but defenseless great auk provided a source of meat and oil,...

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