Born December 25, 1938; married Helen Andrus Fessenden (a biologist). Education: Swarthmore College, graduated; Curtis Institute of Music, B.M.; Cornell University, Ph.D., 1966. Avocational Interests: Playing cello. Addresses: Home: Portal, AZ.
Ornithologist, educator, and researcher. University of South Florida, Tampa, former assistant professor of biology; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, DC, research biologist for Endangered Wildlife Research Program, 1972-76, field leader of Condor Recovery Program, 1980-86; Wildlife Preservation Trust International (now Wildlife Trust), Philadelphia, PA, director of parrot programs, 1989-98. Affiliated with Portal Mining Action Coalition. Former charter member of Bay Festival String Quartet.
William Brewster Memorial Award, American Ornithologists' Union, 1989; Distinguished Achievement Award, Society for Conservation Biology, 1989; honored by Audubon California, 2008.
- An Alarm Reaction of Aquatic Gastropods to Intraspecific Extract (doctoral thesis), New York State College of Agriculture (Ithaca, NY), 1967.
- (With James W. Wiley) Sexual Size Dimorphism in Hawks and Owls of North America, American Ornithologists' Union (Battle Creek, MI), 1976.
- (With James W. Wiley and Cameron B. Kepler) The Parrots of Luquillo: Natural History and Conservation of the Puerto Rican Parrot, Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (Los Angeles, CA), 1987.
- (Under name Noel Snyder, with wife, Helen Snyder) Birds of Prey: Natural History and Conservation of North American Raptors, illustrated with authors' photographs, Voyageur Press (Stillwater, MN), 1991.
- (Editor, with Steven R. Beissinger) New World Parrots in Crisis: Solutions from Conservation Biology, Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, DC), 1992.
- (Under name Noel Snyder, with Helen Snyder) Raptors: North American Birds of Prey, Voyageur Press (Stillwater, MN), 1997.
- (Under name Noel Snyder, with Helen Snyder) The California Condor: A Saga of Natural History and Conservation, Academic Press (San Diego, CA), 2000.
- (Editor, under name Noel Snyder, with others) Parrots: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, 2000-2004, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (Gland, Switzerland), 2000.
- The Carolina Parakeet: Glimpses of a Vanished Bird, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2004.
- (With Helen A. Snyder) Introduction to the California Condor, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 2005.
- (Under name Noel Snyder, with Helen Snyder) Raptors of North America: Natural History and Conservation, illustrated with authors' photographs, Voyageur Press (St. Paul, MN), 2006.
- An Alternative Hypothesis for the Cause of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker's Decline, Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology (Camarillo, CA), 2007.
- (With David E. Brown and Kevin B. Clark) The Travails of Two Woodpeckers: Ivory-Bills & Imperials, University of New Mexico Press (Albuquerque, NM), 2009.
Contributor to periodicals, including Animal Behaviour, Condor, Conservation Biology, Current Ornithology, and Mercury News.
Rare or extinct bird species, including parrots, the Carolina parakeet, and the California condor, have been the focus of Noel F.R. Snyder's career for decades; he garnered particular attention for his work with the condor. As a field biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the 1980s, Snyder helped lead the Condor Recovery Program, which succeeded in reversing the steady decline in the condor population that nearly led to extinction. When Snyder joined the program in 1980, only about twenty condors were known to be left in the wild; by 2008, thanks to a controversial captive-breeding program instituted by Snyder's team, there were approximately 200 in the wild and sixty in captivity. Harshly criticized by some environmentalists at the beginning of the effort, Snyder eventually won recognition for helping save the species. He has written a number of books about the birds he has studied.
The 1991 book Birds of Prey: Natural History and Conservation of North American Raptors is a collaboration between Snyder and his wife, Helen Snyder, who is also a biologist. The book discusses diurnal raptors (meat-eating birds that are active during the day), including hawks, eagles, falcons, kites, vultures, and condors, and includes a number of color photographs taken by the Snyders as well as maps of the birds' habitats. A Publishers Weekly reviewer highlighted the authors' "remarkable research" and intent to encourage conservation but found their presentation "dry" and the quality of the pictures "uneven." In contrast, Wayne Trimm, writing in the Conservationist, deemed it "an excellent book" that is "both valuable and entertaining" as well as "well written," and he also commented on the "high quality" of the photographs.
In The California Condor: A Saga of Natural History and Conservation, Snyder and his wife provide a detailed account of the condor's rescue. The Snyders discuss the bird's history and biology, the failures and successes of the efforts to preserve it, and the political battles that arose between those who wanted little or no human intervention and those who saw intervention as necessary. Writing in Library Journal, Henry T. Armistead called it "one of the most thorough, well-illustrated, and accessible books on an endangered species ever written." It is also, in the opinion of Science contributor Stuart L. Pimm, "an outstanding case study of whether we know enough science to save the rarest species--and whether decision makers will hear and understand that science."
In 2004 Snyder published The Carolina Parakeet: Glimpses of a Vanished Bird, a study of the only parrot native to North America, which became extinct in the first half of the twentieth century. William S. Powell in the Journal of Southern History described it as a "captivating book." Snyder conveys basic information about the bird, including its habits and habitats, diet, and range, and presents evidence that the bird survived into the 1930s or 1940s, whereas the last officially accepted wild sighting was in 1904. Christopher Cokinos, reviewing the book for the Birder's World, thought that Snyder might "take speculation too far" for some readers, but he also commented that "Snyder has given us what the Carolina Parakeet has deserved and what we have needed: a comprehensive monograph of what we know--and don't know." He called it one of the "most important resources on one of America's extinct species."
The Snyders returned to the world of raptors for the comprehensive 2006 book Raptors of North America: Natural History and Conservation, which covers all fifty-three species found on the continent, both diurnal and nocturnal. Dubbed "an outstanding reference" by a California Bookwatch writer, the book includes basic species information drawn from both the Snyders' research and other scientific literature, range maps, and the Snyders' photographs of the birds and their natural habitats. Taking an anecdotal approach that draws on their years of experience, the authors produced what Nancy Bent in Booklist called "an easily digested reference work" that "also is very enjoyable as pleasure reading." Armistead, in his Library Journal critique, deemed Raptors of North America "rich, informative, and attractive" as well as "authoritative and interesting."
With coauthors David E. Brown and Kevin B. Clark, Snyder published The Travails of Two Woodpeckers: Ivory-Bills & Imperials in 2009. The account looks at the ivory-bill woodpecker and imperial woodpeckers, two species that are widely thought to be extinct. The authors show how these birds began to decline in number and what implications this has had on the conservation in their former habitat range. The book also disputes claims made in earlier research on these two species.
A contributor to Birdfreak.com observed that "the appendix on known sightings of Imperials is interesting but confusing to the non-scientist." Still, the contributor recommended The Travails of Two Woodpeckers to readers with an "avid interest in conservation and to anyone who is interested in learning more about two intriguing woodpeckers that they will most likely never get to see." Writing in Geographical Review, Mikko Saikku commented: "Whereas Snyder's unorthodox explanation for the ivory-bill's demise is based on meticulous research deserving of respect, the greatest contribution of The Travails of Two Woodpeckers for contemporary bird enthusiasts is undoubtedly the fascinating chapter on the imperial woodpecker by David Brown and Kevin Clark. Very little has been published on this species." Saikku called the book "highly recommended" and "a must-read for anyone who is interested in endangered and extinct birds." The reviewer commended Snyder for providing "a great deal of new information on the ivory-billed and imperial woodpeckers," as well as for providing "important considerations for the conservation of endangered species."
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
- American Scientist, July 1, 1993, Bette A. Loiselle, review of New World Parrots in Crisis: Solutions from Conservation Biology, p. 388.
- Atlantic, October 1, 1983, Kenneth Brower, "The Naked Vulture and the Thinking Ape," p. 70.
- Auk, January, 1993, William S. Clark, review of Birds of Prey: Natural History and Conservation of North American Raptors, p. 166; July, 1993, David A. Wiedenfeld, review of New World Parrots in Crisis, p. 666.
- BioScience, February 1, 1993, Patricia C. Arrowood, review of New World Parrots in Crisis, p. 117.
- Birder's World, June 1, 2005, Christopher Cokinos, review of The Carolina Parakeet: Glimpses of a Vanished Bird, p. 74.
- Booklist, November 1, 2006, Nancy Bent, review of Raptors of North America: Natural History and Conservation, p. 12.
- California Bookwatch, November 1, 2006, review of Raptors of North America.
- Choice, June 1, 1992, S.W. Harris, review of Birds of Prey, p. 1570; September 1, 1992, C.J. Pollard, review of New World Parrots in Crisis, p. 152; December 1, 2000, D. Flaspohler, review of The California Condor: A Saga of Natural History and Conservation, p. 735; May 1, 2005, H.N. Cunningham, Jr., review of The Carolina Parakeet, p. 1618; August 1, 2007, S.W. Harris, review of Raptors of North America, p. 2133.
- Condor, May 1, 1998, Charles R. Preston, review of Raptors: North American Birds of Prey, p. 406.
- Conservationist, April 1, 1993, Wayne Trimm, review of Birds of Prey, p. 43.
- Ecology, April 1, 1989, Joseph M. Wunderle, Jr., review of The Parrots of Luquillo: Natural History and Conservation of the Puerto Rican Parrot, p. 528; December 1, 1992, John C. Kricher, review of New World Parrots in Crisis, p. 2333.
- Geographical Review, April 1, 2010, Mikko Saikku, review of The Travails of Two Woodpeckers: Ivory-Bills & Imperials, p. 274.
- Journal of Southern History, February 1, 2006, William S. Powell, review of The Carolina Parakeet, p. 148.
- Journal of the West, April 1, 1994, John L. Zimmerman, review of Birds of Prey, p. 88.
- Library Journal, October 1, 1991, Frank Reiser, review of Birds of Prey, p. 138; October 1, 2000, Henry T. Armistead, review of The California Condor, p. 142; November 1, 2006, Henry T. Armistead, review of Raptors of North America, p. 106.
- Mountain Enterprise, June 13, 2008, Patric Hedlund and Gary Meyer, "Condor Scientists Wrangle over Tejon Ranch Accord."
- New Scientist, June 6, 1992, Caroline Pond, review of New World Parrots in Crisis, p. 43.
- New York Times Book Review, November 22, 1983, Bayard Webster, "Huge Condors Seem Destined to Survive, after All."
- Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1991, review of Birds of Prey, p. 76.
- Quarterly Review of Biology, March 1, 1994, Peter Bennett, review of New World Parrots in Crisis, p. 123; September, 2001, Kristine L. Preston, review of The California Condor, p. 361; September, 2006, Arthur H. Harris, review of Introduction to the California Condor, p. 293.
- Reader's Digest, February 1, 1994, Peter Michelmore, "Last Stand of the Condor," p. 81.
- Science, July 10, 1992, Catherine A. Toft, review of New World Parrots in Crisis, p. 275.
- SciTech Book News, September 1, 1997, review of Raptors, p. 47; December 1, 2000, review of The California Condor, p. 69.
- Times Literary Supplement, April 13, 2001, Stephen Mills, review of The California Condor, p. 4.
- Wilson Bulletin, June 1, 1993, Glen E. Woolfenden, review of New World Parrots in Crisis, p. 381.
- Birdfreak.com, http://birdfreak.com/ (June 9, 2009), review of The Travails of Two Woodpeckers.*