James Taylor Tanner

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James Taylor Tanner
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Born(1914-03-06)March 6, 1914
Homer, New York
Died(1991-01-21)January 21, 1991
Alma materCornell University
  • Ornithologist
  • Ecologist
  • Professor

James Taylor Tanner (March 6, 1914 - January 21, 1991) was an ornithologist and ecologist who graduated from Cornell University. He was a professor of the Department of Zoology of the University of Tennessee, and was best known for writing an in-depth study about the ivory-billed woodpecker, which was published in the form of a book[1] bearing the same name.

Tanner was born in Homer, New York and studied at Cortland High School [2] he was enrolled in Cornell. At Cornell, he met Dr. Arthur A. Allen, who taught him ornithology while he was there. Tanner was also the youngest member to go on Allen's expedition to the Singer Tract, which also happened to be the the location for the last credible sightings of ivory-billed woodpeckers. During the expedition, he became the only known person to successfully band an ivory-billed woodpecker. [3] This expedition soon led to him basing his Ph.D. dissertation on the "Life History and Ecology of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker".

Personal life

After graduating, he spent most of his life in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he met Nancy Burnham Sheedy, one of the first women to graduate from Harvard University with a master's degree. They married in 1941.


  1. Tanner, James T. (9 June 2003). The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Courier Corporation. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-486-42837-6. Archived from the original on 2 April 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  2. Cortland High School (1931). The Co-Hi-An.
  3. Bales, Stephen Lyn (2010). Ghost Birds: Jim Tanner and the Quest for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, 1935-1941.

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