Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Ivory Bill Woodpecker in Florida

I was searching for information on the Ivory Bill last night and I ran across this article. I got very excited because I believe I will see an Ivory Bill Woodpecker sometime very soon. I may head over to the Choctawahatchee in a few weeks for a kayaking trip! I guess I'll need a video camera though. I'm going to get a video of this bird, I just know it. Last spring when I saw three pileated woodpeckers in my yard, I thought I heard the double knock as well and yet when I went out they did seem to be pileated. I have some photos of them in a dustup and the feathers are fanned out but the very tips are black even though the rest of the fan is white. The ivory bill has white on the very tips when the tail feathers are fanned out. I just feel they are out there, many more than we realized and they are coming back! It is very exciting. I saw a snowy white owl once, on a snowy moon bright winter night in a tree below the moon while I was walking in front of my favorite church, St Paul's in Fayetteville Arkansas. Some sights are burned into ones memory and we don't forget, like special birthdays...

More evidence of ivory-bill bird found in FloridaAU researchers say they've seen and heard woodpecker
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
By KENNETH KESNERTimes Staff Writer
A team led by an Auburn University professor announced Monday there is evidence indicating ivory-billed woodpeckers are living in a remote river basin in the Florida Panhandle.
Bobby Harrison, who, with a colleague, made the first "confirmed" sighting of the thought-to-be-extinct bird in Arkansas in 2004, said he was pleased.
"I think it's wonderful," said Harrison, a wildlife photographer and instructor at Oakwood College. "We've got birds in two locations now."
Professor Geoff Hill, an ornithologist in Auburn's College of Science and Mathematics, and two research assistants, Tyler Hicks and Brian Rolek, were kayaking a section of the Choctawhatchee River in May 2005, when Rolek saw an ivory-bill in flight, according to the team's news release.

On that same trip, Hill heard the bird's signature "double knock" sound and the team found numerous large cavities in trees, along with places where bark had been removed in a way consistent with known ivory-billed woodpecker behavior.

In later visits, Hicks got a clear view of the bird; from May 2005 to May 2006, the team has made 14 sightings. And Dan Merrill, an assistant professor at the University of Windsor (Ontario), has recorded and identified hundreds of sounds that match descriptions of those made by the ivory-billed woodpecker.

"It was just to be a weekend outing looking for potential habitat," Hill said. "We really never dreamed we'd actually find an ivory-bill."

Hill published his findings Monday in the online journal Avian Conservation & Ecology (, but rumors have been circulating in the birding community for some time.

Harrison telephoned Hill last week to hear more about the team's work "and tell him I was very excited they had found birds there."

He said Hill invited him to join the hunt in Florida and said the 2004 discovery in Arkansas had spurred his work along the Choctawhatchee River.

Harrison and Tim Gallagher, a fellow photographer and editor of the Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology's Living Bird magazine, made the first "confirmed" sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker in more than 60 years in an eastern Arkansas swamp in February 2004.

The large black-and-white bird - up to 20 inches tall from head to toe with up to a three-foot wingspan - is one of a half-dozen North American bird species thought to have become extinct since 1880. It ranged across the southeastern United States until logging between 1880 and the 1940s eliminated many forests.

While he hasn't personally seen or heard Hill's evidence, Harrison said he's talked to others he respects who have, and it's encouraging.

"The people doing the sighting are good birders," Harrison said. He expects to join in the Florida search, in part because his chance of getting a good picture of the woodpecker is better in the 8,700-acre Choctawhatchee River habitat than the half-million acres of the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge area in Arkansas.

"Habitat has been improving for decades and good sightings have become more and more numerous," he said. "Perhaps, we will soon have a third and fourth find of this extraordinary creature as well."

In his statement, Hill said they were confident the elusive bird is living in the Florida Panhandle, but acknowledged "the only evidence that would constitute irrefutable proof is a clear photograph or video of an ivory-billed woodpecker, and such an image has to date eluded us."

Harrison said some doubters won't believe the bird still exists until they actually hold a dead one in their hands.

1 comment:

  1. Deb, your blog is very interesting. I expect you here tomorrow, and you can have my old video camera if you want it. I have not used it in years. Your pictures are really superb.
    Love Dad