Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thoughts on the ivory-billed woodpecker

It was the king of woodpeckers, a majestic bird.  Recent word is that we lost it twice: that the American and Cuban versions may have been different species.  The Cuban is, without doubt, extinct. The American is...well, almost certainly extinct.  It's sad to think we managed to screw up repeatedly. The Cuban was rediscovered in the 1980s, but too late to preserve enough habitat.  The American was videotaped in 2004 in Arkansas, a huge effort was made to find and save it, and ... nothing.(I think the taped sighting was valid: the experts are split, so the amateurs get to weigh in, too :) )  Sightings in TX, LA, and FL and intriguing, but nothing solid backs them up.
I met a woman once who had hiked with her father as a young girl in the early 50s in Louisiana. Her dad shushed her and pointed to a magnificent bird sitting on a stump "That's an ivory-billed woodpecker," he whispered. "Take a good look, because you'll never see one again." This is where we all are now: take a good luck at the few seconds of video from the ivorybill's rediscovery, because I don't think we'll see it again.

1 comment:

omegaman66 said...

I was so excited when I heard the news. I looked at the video and was not able to tell what it was, but I shrugged my shoulders and deferred to experts. My brother the refused to believe it. It made me mad. Then low and behold as more and more people weighed in and no other photos materialized and more and more analysis of the video came in that I realized it was not an ivory-billed woodpecker.

I am still hopeful that some will be discovered in Florida or along the pearl river.