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View Full Version : He's not dead yet - The Ivory Billed Woodpecker



Swift
2005-Apr-28, 07:08 PM
I guess I'm a complete nature-geek; this makes me joyful beyond description.


An ivory-billed woodpecker -- widely believed to be extinct and whose last confirmed sighting was 60 years ago -- is alive in Arkansas, according to a research paper released Thursday.
....
"The bird captured on video is clearly an ivory-billed woodpecker. Amazingly, America may have another chance to protect the future of this spectacular bird and the awesome forests in which it lives," said a statement from John Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, The Associated Press reported.

CNN.com story (http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/04/28/woodpecker/index.html)

Jpax2003
2005-Apr-28, 07:13 PM
Was it hunted to extinction because of its ivory?

frogesque
2005-Apr-28, 07:40 PM
Was it hunted to extinction because of its ivory?

Being serious, its habitat was destroyed for hardwood logging as well as the bird itself being hunted to feed the feather trade for ladies hats in the the late 1800s/early 1900s. Many birds were all but exterminated in the 'interests' of fashion and 'vanity'.

I'm not really a twitcher but I hope this small breeding colony (assumed to be breeding because the 'drumming' is a normally a male mating call) will get the habitat preservation and peace it needs to strenghten and multiply.

Doodler
2005-Apr-28, 07:56 PM
With a 15 year lifespan and some 50 years since it was last spotted, I'd say there's a stable and sizeable population out there somewhere.

That's a fairly short lifespan for a bird, so its got to be breeding successfully as it is now.

jfribrg
2005-Apr-28, 08:16 PM
This is wonderful news. Being a birder (or as you Brits would say, a "twitcher"), I have always dreamed of being able to see one of these birds. It would be great if a colony of these birds really was found. However, it is not a guarantee that this part of Arkansas is where the colony is. The bird that was found there could have wandered a large distance from where it hatched. I remember an article in 2002 discussing the possibility that an Ivory-Bill could travel hundreds of miles without being detected. Some people would surely see it, but most people would not know what it was if they did see it, or would conclude that it was a Pileated (they both show large amounts of white on the wing in flight), or would not be believed if they did insist that they saw it. Hopefully this will prompt a concerted effort to find the breeding grounds for this bird.

2005-Apr-29, 06:53 PM
Indeed, that is great news. I can't even remember where I read about it - but, it's great news nonetheless!! :D :D :D :D

Candy
2005-Apr-29, 07:01 PM
But the key evidence is an April 25, 2004, video that David Luneau shot. It shows a large woodpecker perched on a tree and flying away as his canoe approaches.
I saw a short interview with Mr. Luneau this morning. He had a great sense of humor when telling his story. :D

Normandy6644
2005-Apr-29, 07:23 PM
Woo! Hooray for our ornithology department! This makes up for naming those beetles after the president and stuff.

ChaosInc
2005-May-01, 04:39 PM
I saw the video. Is there really enough evidence from the video to determine it was an Ivory Billed? The images are pretty fleeting. I did notice that the bird didn't (not sure of the term) coast in flight. Don't most woodpeckers flap/coast/flap? I suppose that if they've been at this for a year they have additional evidence to corraborate.

I have a relative who lives near the area. It is a large tract of timbered lowland surrounded by farming. I think the Corps of Engineers wanted to channel the river for years, but were unable to do so.

Swift
2005-May-02, 01:29 PM
I saw the video. Is there really enough evidence from the video to determine it was an Ivory Billed? The images are pretty fleeting. I did notice that the bird didn't (not sure of the term) coast in flight. Don't most woodpeckers flap/coast/flap? I suppose that if they've been at this for a year they have additional evidence to corraborate.

I have a relative who lives near the area. It is a large tract of timbered lowland surrounded by farming. I think the Corps of Engineers wanted to channel the river for years, but were unable to do so.
The video is not the only evidence, just the stuff that makes for the best TV. The evidence includes sightings by trained people, drumming that is distinctive to ivory-billed (woodpeckers peck on trees for food and just for the sound - the males use the "drumming" like other birds use songs) and I believe holes in trees in patterns distinctive for ivory-billed.

jfribrg
2005-May-02, 01:42 PM
Ivory-bills are known to be strong fliers. Woodpeckers have an undulating flight, but I don't think there is a flap-glide-flap pattern. I also don't know if this is true of the Ivory-Bill. I used to have Bent's "Life Histories of North American Woodpeckers", which has an extensive account of Kellogg's 1935 expedition, but I can't find it at the moment. The Pileateds I've seen have a series of strong slow wingbeats, not a flap-glide-flap pattern. Also, these patterns are most obvious when the bird is flying in the open. Since the bird was flushed, it will naturally be flapping stronger than it might otherwise. It also had several turns in the woods that would disrupt any glide pattern. In any case, a frame-by-frame analysis is necessary to determine a composite picture of what the bird looks like. The video was also used to determine the size of the bird and therefore eliminate the possibility of it being a fortuitously partially albino Pileated.

Given how infrequent the encounters are in that area, I wonder if the bird is spending time elsewhere.

Maksutov
2005-Jul-21, 10:54 PM
Now you see it, now you don't. (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050721/ap_on_sc/woodpecker_question;_ylt=Asty8rjguV3_zNtkcdw4IHqs0 NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MzV0MTdmBHNlYwM3NTM-)

Beaking news on the always intriguing woodpecker front!

Swift
2005-Jul-22, 12:21 PM
Now you see it, now you don't. (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20050721/ap_on_sc/woodpecker_question;_ylt=Asty8rjguV3_zNtkcdw4IHqs0 NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3MzV0MTdmBHNlYwM3NTM-)

Beaking news on the always intriguing woodpecker front!
"Beaking news" :lol: , I didn't seed that one coming.

I had heard about that too, and I thought I had heard what journal the article was to be published in (with a rebutal from the bird finders), but I don't remember where. The Yahoo story makes it sound like they were questioning the video as proof. From all that I have read, that is only one piece of evidence, and the one that is the most fun to put on the News. But there have been a lot of other spottings, over the course of about a year, by expert birders.

MrClean
2005-Jul-22, 02:30 PM
I didn't want to say anything as I don't pay THAT close attention to birdwatching, though my cats have brought me in some rather intritguing specimens, but more than once I have seen an ivory bill in my neighborhood close to Parkville.

Why not say something? Well first off, I'm probably wrong, though I don't think so. Second, what would they do to my neighborhood if there actually was a population of those around here. All I need is some government official taking the housing values of my area down for a lovely little bird that seems to be getting along there as is.

I did stop feeding woodpeckers at my bird feeders just in case one would land and my cats would somehow get to it like they do other birds, frogs, snakes, squirrels, etc. etc. They haven't brought me in a dog yet, but then I have had strays in the yard playing with my beagels.

It would have been nice though, proof that there at least WAS an ivory bill in the neighborhood, though with typical luck any identifying marks would probably be removed by my cats.

I've gotten a taller pole, way beyond what my cats will be capable of jumping and I may start feeding again. But after watching their technique, they rarely go after a feeding bird, they weight for one to land on the ground within pouncing distance. So I'm still hesitant to feed those kinds of birds.

As far as the ivory bills though, they are pretty, woodpeckers, but they are still pretty. More so than Bluejays at least.

jfribrg
2005-Jul-22, 02:41 PM
What state is parkville in? Unless you live deep in a swamp, surrounded by trees, the habitat is the typical habitat for Ivory-bills. What markings did you see on it to conclude it is an Ivory-bill? The Red-Headed woodpecker has white back markings that are similar, although this bird is much, much smaller. Then of course there is the Pileated, which has the red crest of the male ivory-bill. Did you see a black crest? Why not take a picture of it and report it anonymously to Cornell? They set up a web site (http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory/story17.htm) for reporting Ivory-bill sightings. Even if the property values do fall, you could more than make up for it by writing a book about your bird.

Swift
2005-Jul-22, 07:04 PM
CNN.com (http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/07/22/woodpecker.question.ap/index.html) has now picked up the story.

A key part of the Cornell work, IMO, is the following:

Cornell researchers pointed to several independent sightings of the bird and the video clip, which, they said, showed key features of the woodpecker, including its distinctive wing markings.
I have also read this in more detailed accounts - multiple expert birders independently spotted birds, it is not just based on the video. I am very curious if Jackson's doubts are because he feels the assignment was basely solely on the video, or if also has questions about the other sightings.
This Nature Conservancy (http://nature.org/ivorybill/search/timeline.html) website (and the various links on it) give a lot more details, including bios of the other spotters.

jfribrg
2005-Jul-22, 07:23 PM
One thing I have noted about birdwatchers (and is probably even more true of ornithologists) is that extreme skepticism is considered a desirable trait. Many extremely skilled birders pride themselves on how little they trust other people's sightings. I'm not suggesting that these IBW sightings should be accepted as absolutely true, but I feel that many seemingly credible sightings have been dismissed without any evidentiary basis for dismissing them. I saw in a recent identification book, published about 10 years ago, a statement about the Ivory-bill (I'm paraphrasing here) "there have been occasional reports of Ivory-bill sightings over the years, but these were undoubtedly all Pileateds". I'm not sure how that conclusion could have been made when nobody even bothered to visit the areas in question. I'm not saying that every supposed sighting by a duck hunter should force ornithologists to launch an expensive expedition, but I am saying that their conclusions were based on prejudice rather than on evidence.

MrClean
2005-Jul-22, 11:13 PM
Nope, must be a different breed, ivory bill, but nowhere near the same markings. Musta seen a different pic last time I looked and like I said, I stopped feeding for woodpeckers for fear this little thing would get eaten. We're not swampy here either though I do have several junctioning creeks and a runoff area not far away. And it's near KC so this was another reason I was doubtful. The body was more the red crested woodpecker but the colorings were white and black with a white bill. I should look through some photos and find the right bird.

aurora
2005-Jul-23, 02:04 PM
Nope, must be a different breed, ivory bill, but nowhere near the same markings. Musta seen a different pic last time I looked and like I said, I stopped feeding for woodpeckers for fear this little thing would get eaten. We're not swampy here either though I do have several junctioning creeks and a runoff area not far away. And it's near KC so this was another reason I was doubtful. The body was more the red crested woodpecker but the colorings were white and black with a white bill. I should look through some photos and find the right bird.

The Pileated woodpecker has the closest appearance to the Ivory Bill, except that the pileated is smaller (still a big bird though, if one comes to your feeder), and the wing coloration pattern is different.

Swift
2005-Jul-25, 01:05 PM
One website (http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i4050id.html) about Pileated woodpeckers.
Another one (http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/pileatedwoodpecker.htm) with better pictures.
They are very impressive birds, I get them in my backyard once in a while. They are impressive to watch taking chunks of wood out of a tree.

jfribrg
2005-Jul-25, 01:44 PM
They are very impressive birds.

Agreed.


Unfortunately, I live in a suburban area so not only do I not have dark skies, I don't get any Pileateds either. The closest suitable habitat is about 8 miles away. I see a few every year. I never get tired of them.

jfribrg
2005-Aug-03, 02:01 PM
It seems that for once the scientific process actually worked the way it is supposed to. This (http://www.physorg.com/news5588.html) article explains how a couple of skeptical ornithologists changed their positions when additional information was provided. Even before they changed their position, their statements and the responses of the Cornell researchers were very professional and for a change was presented reasonably fairly in the press.

Laser Jock
2005-Aug-03, 03:18 PM
It seems that for once the scientific process actually worked the way it is supposed to. This (http://www.physorg.com/news5588.html) article explains how a couple of skeptical ornithologists changed their positions when additional information was provided. Even before they changed their position, their statements and the responses of the Cornell researchers were very professional and for a change was presented reasonably fairly in the press.

Wahoo!! I ToSeeked (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=511984#511984) someone. :D

jfribrg
2005-Aug-03, 04:44 PM
Wahoo!! I ToSeeked (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=511984#511984) someone. :D

Waddya excited about? toSeeking me is no big deal. The hard part is toSeeking toSeek. Are you up to the challenge? It can be done. I did it about a year ago, so I can consider my life complete.

Eoanthropus Dawsoni
2005-Aug-03, 04:45 PM
Anyone have some Ivory Bill recipes?

Swift
2005-Aug-03, 07:19 PM
Anyone have some Ivory Bill recipes?
Sure, here (http://www.birdwatchersdigest.com/site/how_to/recipes/recipe_peanut_suet.aspx) is a suet recipe that will attract all kinds of woodpeckers.

Oh, that's not what you meant.... :wink:

ToSeek
2005-Aug-03, 08:56 PM
Wahoo!! I ToSeeked (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?p=511984#511984) someone. :D

Waddya excited about? toSeeking me is no big deal. The hard part is toSeeking toSeek. Are you up to the challenge? It can be done. I did it about a year ago, so I can consider my life complete.

I'm glad to hear that I bring such fulfillment to people's lives. ;)
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Do we need some new Bad Astronomy t-shirts? Ones like:

I corrected JayUtah!

I ToSeeked ToSeek!

Swift
2005-Aug-03, 09:08 PM
<snip>
I corrected JayUtah!

Oh, that's as likely as I got Glom to join Greenpeace :o
(just kidding Glom :D )

ToSeek
2006-Aug-04, 04:56 PM
NASA joins search for elusive woodpecker (http://edition.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/08/04/nasa.woodpecker.reut/)


NASA scientists have joined the search for the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought to be extinct but recently sighted in Arkansas.

NASA used a laser-equipped research aircraft to fly over the Big Woods area of the Mississippi Delta to learn more about the big woodpecker's potential habitat, the U.S. space agency said on Thursday.

Scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the University of Maryland used an instrument that sends pulses of energy to Earth's surface, where light particles from the lasers bounce off leaves, branches and the ground and reflect back to the instrument.

Donnie B.
2006-Aug-04, 09:09 PM
NASA joins search for elusive woodpecker (http://edition.cnn.com/2006/TECH/space/08/04/nasa.woodpecker.reut/)News headline: NASA jet ingests last of the Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers