Sunday, September 26, 2021

Any hope for the ivory-billed woodpecker?

 Is there hope? A little bit. Maybe an extremely little bit. But for myself, I haven't quite closed the file. 

Audubon published this article on sightings and unfortunately long-range video tapes. Michael Collins (not the late astronaut) has spent many years in pursuit of the bird and thinks he's nabbed it, but his evidence so far, including sound recordings, hasn't been enough.


Artist unknown, Marked free for use on Wikipedia Commons

I know of two sightings not recorded officially, although neither is in the post-rediscovery-post-extinct-again era.  One was by an ex-forest ranger in the 80s in Arkansas that unfortunately did not impress the ranger she talked to. The other is haunting. I once met a woman named Ruth Laws, or Lowes, by chance in a museum in Denver. She'd been 10 or 11, hiking with her dad in the Singer Tract in the early 50s. Her father shushed her and pointed to a "magnificent red, white, and black bird" sitting on a stump. Her dad whispered, "That is an ivory-billed woodpecker. Take a good look, because you'll never see one again." They watched it for a couple minutes before it left. I talked to a prominent ornithologist who asked for her contact information, but I didn't have it and couldn't find her again. 
Is it out there? The chance is tiny. But tiny isn't the same as zero.

Now there's a book arguing the case

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker: Taunting Extinction: Survival in the Modern Era by Guy G. Luneau  

The book is based largely on sighting in Louisiana.  

Is the bird out there? The chance is tiny. But tiny isn't the same as zero. 

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