Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

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Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

  1. 1. The Quest for the Most Elusive Bird of All Time By Peter Suich
  2. 2. Ivory-billed Woodpecker The ivory-billed woodpecker, named for the color of its beak, is a large crow-sized bird of the U.S. and Cuba.Image taken by Arthur Allen in Singer Tract in 1935
  3. 3.  The ivory-billed woodpecker was first described in 1712, by the Englishman Mark Catesby. From the early 1800s to the early 1900s, the bird was killed by Europeans for its bill and crest, and Native Americans began hunting the woodpecker much earlier. As a result, the ivory-bill was in danger of extinction by the early 20th Century.
  4. 4. Status The scant data we have on the ivory-bill suggests that it has never been very common. Historically, the ivory-bill has required extensive bottomland forests for survival. By the 1920s, much of the ivory-billed woodpecker’s habitat was gone, and most ornithologists considered the bird extinct.
  5. 5.  In 1935, a group from Cornell university rediscovered the ivory-billed woodpecker in a hardwood forest in Tallulah, Louisiana. The last definite sighting, though, came a mere nine years later. In 1971, George Lowry, Jr., a respected ornithologist, came forward with what he believed to be two genuine photos of the ivory-bill; to his surprise, he was greeted with scorn and skepticism.
  6. 6.  In 2005, Cornell university claimed they had rediscovered the ivory-billed woodpecker for the second time. The university had a research group in Arkansas that documented seven reliable sightings, audio recordings, and an extremely blurry video of an “ivory-billed woodpecker.” Despite the evidence, skeptics continued to debate the issue.
  7. 7. Seeing Double One of the problems associated with determining the ivory-billed woodpecker’s status is its remarkable resemblance to its close relative, the pileated woodpecker. Image by Andrew Brownsword
  8. 8. Conclusion The fact that there is no definitive proof for the ivory- billed woodpecker’s survival is suspicious. Some evidence, however, like the short video taken by a member of Cornell’s research team in 2004, does seem rather suggestive. It is likely the ivory-bill still exists in very small numbers.

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