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On the Hunt for Hundreds of Rare Birds Stolen From a Museum

Audubon – On the Hunt for Hundreds of Rare Birds Stolen From a Museum

“Writer Kirk Johnson accidentally becomes part of the search for the pilfered specimens in this excerpt from the “The Feather Thief.” …No one appreciates a luxurious, ornate feather more than a birder. No one, except maybe a fly fisher. The fascinating, obsessive practice of tying high-end flies can consume not just individuals, but entire institutions. That’s the crux of Kirk Wallace Johnson’s true story about Edwin Rist, a young prodigy in both the orchestral and fly-tying communities whose greed got the best of him. In 2009, the 20-year-old American stole into the British Natural History Museum at Tring, which contains almost 750,000 specimens representing about 95 percent of the world’s bird species. He took off with millions of dollars in bird skins in what he claims was a single suitcase. Many of the scientific specimens he lifted were part of Alfred Russel Wallace’s seminal birds-of-paradise collection…”

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