Date: 5/18/17 8:09 am
From: David Luneau <mdluneau...>
Subject: Re: Bird Specimens Catalogued (An Earl Newton story)
Dan, thanks for cataloging Earl Newton’s collection. I had the pleasure of meeting him many years ago, and I thought I would share my story here of how I came to meet Earl and how he tied in to the Arkansas Ivory-bill story.

Sometime in the early 1990s, the UALR library had a sidewalk book sale. I had just recently begun teaching there at that time. I wandered over to look through the books, and I saw a paperback titled Research Report No. 1 of the National Audubon Society: The Ivory-billed Woodpecker, by James T. Tanner, October 1942. I bought it for 50 cents. Even at the time, I thought it was a real bargain – it’s a first edition, after all, and it was 50 years old at the time. This was Tanner’s PhD thesis. He remains the only person to ever thoroughly study the life history of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, so most of what we assume about Ivory-bill distribution, feeding and breeding habits, etc., comes from this work.

On the first page of the book was the following handwritten note:

Congratulations Lieutenant!

Happy Birthday!

Merry Xmas!

from your friends,

Harold & Margaret Hedges

Dec 18, 1942

Intrigued by this, I asked Bill Shepherd about the Lieutenant and the Hedges. He said that the Hedges were both still alive and living in north Arkansas. He mused that a Lieutenant in 1942 might not still be with us. That proved to be an unfounded fear, thankfully.

I located the Hedges’ phone number (pre-internet and Google, for those who can still remember those days) and called them. I spoke with Harold – I believe Margaret had the beginnings of dementia at that time. He told me, “Well, that must surely have been Earl Newton, now a retired Colonel.” Harold told me that Earl lived in North Little Rock, and he encouraged me to contact him.

I read Tanner’s book, which got me interested in Ivory-bills. In the 1990s, the only hope for the species seemed to be that a few may remain in Cuba. I had thoughts that someday I might be able to travel to Cuba and search for Ivory-bills there, but at the time, Cuba was pretty much off-limits to U.S. citizens.

Some years passed before I decided to contact Earl, but after David Kulivan’s Ivory-bill sighting in the Pearl River WMA in Louisiana and after I did some searching there, I decided to call him. On Dec 10, 2001, I talked with him. Here are the notes I took from that conversation:

Talked to Earl. 83 years old. In a tank battalion in the army. Sent to New Guinea – no fighting. Then to Luzon. Book collector – donates many to UALR. Has skins collection – will buy a $1000 cabinet & donate to UALR or UAF. Harold – tall, slender man. Roger Tory Peterson said he was one of the best birders he knew. ~90 years old.

Wow – how many people can say that Roger Tory Peterson said that about them? Way to go, Harold!

Earl went on to tell me that he had a second Ivory-bill book that he would give me once he found it. [He found it and gave it to me on a subsequent meeting with him.]

Harold and Margaret Hedges and Earl Newton are no longer with us. But, the Hedges’ gift of a book to a young Lieutenant and Earl Newton’s donation of a book to the UALR library played an important part in piquing my interest in the Ivory-bill. I will be ever grateful to him for that.

M. David Luneau, Jr. P.E.

Associate Professor of Electronics

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

2801 S. University Ave.

Little Rock, AR 72204

From: The Birds of Arkansas Discussion List [mailto:<ARBIRD-L...>] On Behalf Of Dan Scheiman
Sent: Saturday, May 6, 2017 4:37 PM
To: <ARBIRD-L...>
Subject: [ARBIRD-L] Bird Specimens Catalogued

With help from Jeremy Chamberlain and Nancy Deckard, all the birds have been catalogued today! That's 160 specimens in 20 boxes. Highlights include: Smew, Bluethroat, Pheasant Coucal, Copper Pheasant, Green Pheasant, Capercaillie, and Himalayan Snowcock. Some of the cool US birds are: Mountain Plover, Snowy Plover, Red-billed Tropicbird, Glossy Ibis, Rock & Willow Ptarmigans, Crested Auklet, Arctic Loon, Boreal Owl, and Mangrove Cuckoo. The collector, Earl T. Newton, had good taste. Next step is to find research and teaching collections that can use them.

Dan Scheiman

Little Rock, AR

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