Ivory-billed Woodpeckers Sighted!!
It's not every day that an "extinct" species comes back to life. (Next: The passenger pigeon.) Look at this breaking bulletin from the Science magazine folks. They've analyzed a video frame by frame and concluded that there really is at least one ivory-billed woodpecker in the Big Woods of Arkansas. Note the part of the story where the guy weeps at having seen an ivory-billed. Great conservation drama! (When we think of dramatic, heartstopping, tearjerking activities we don't usually think of birding.) Reuters, meanwhile, has a story quoting an Audubon ornithologist: "It is kind of like finding Elvis." Hey, he's probably in them woods, too. Keep looking!
Here's the press bulletin from Science Express:
"Multiple Sightings of Long-Lost Woodpecker Reported:
"Observers in eastern Arkansas have reported at least eight independent sightings of a bird that appears to be an ivory-billed woodpecker, a species widely thought to be extinct. A video clip of one bird, though blurry, shows key features, including the size and markings, indicating that the bird is indeed an ivory-billed woodpecker, according to John W. Fitzpatrick and coauthors. One of the world's largest woodpeckers, the ivory-billed woodpecker is one of six North American bird species suspected or known to have become extinct since 1880. The last conclusive sighting of an ivory-billed woodpecker in continental North America occurred in 1944, although anecdotal reports have continued to this day. The sightings, each by a different person or team, occurred during the last two years within three kilometers of one another in the "Big Woods" region of Arkansas, which includes swamps and bottomland hardwood forests. Despite extensive search efforts, the authors were not able to determine how many individual birds were actually encountered. By magnifying and analyzing individual frames of the video clip, Fitzpatrick and his colleagues identified the bird as an ivory-billed woodpecker based on its size, specifically the distance from wing to tail, and the black and white markings on its wings and body."
The only problem with this story is that they don't have the final proof, which is a body. Where I come from, in the pineywoods of North Florida, the way we always knew FOR SURE that it was an ivory-billed was by the taste.
[Meanwhile in other science news, check out Guy Gugliotta's piece about planned cuts in the NASA Earth Sciences program. It brings to mind something an Earth scientist recently told me: That NASA's conception of the solar system no longer includes the Earth.]
The comments to this entry are closed.