Holy Grail/Holy Bird
This morning, I awoke, as usual, to National Public Radio (NPR) telling the news of the world. Except, this morning, the world was a different place than it was yesterday because NPR reported that the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, which was thought by most to be extinct, had been rediscovered. This individual, an adult male, was seen and video-taped in the deep forest of bottomland hardwoods between Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee.
"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," John W. Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, said in a statement.
The Ivory-billed woodpecker, Campephilus principalis, is one of the largest woodpecker species in the world. It lives in old growth hardwood forests of the Mississippi Basin in the southern United States, and also on the island of Cuba. It was declared extinct in 1996 in the United States, after the last documented sighting of an adult female in 1944. It takes a long time before conservationists declare any species extinct because they do not want to give up trying to save an endangered species too soon.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is one of six North American bird species assumed to have gone extinct since 1880. The others are Labrador Duck, Camptorhynchus labradorius; Eskimo Curlew, Numenius borealis; Carolina Parakeet, Conuropsis carolinensis; Passenger Pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius; and Bachman's Warbler, Vermivora bachmanii.
"This is huge. Just huge," said Frank Gill, senior ornithologist at the Audubon Society. "It is kind of like finding Elvis."
The Nature Conservancy, which has protected a large segment of land in the area, reported that the first sighting came on Feb. 11, 2004, by George Sparling of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
I am joyful beyond words. The world is a better, richer, more magical place. Knowing that this magnificent bird lives still, despite all the terrible things that we have done to them, provides a glimmer of hope that not all is lost.
Click on this image of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker's historic range (right) to see a larger version in its own window. Also, some information about this habitat from the Nature Conservancy, which has been purchasing and protecting this area for many decades.
A photograph of a juvenile Ivory-billed Woodpecker, taken by James T. Tanner, who was an expert on ivory-billed woodpeckers.
More information (will be updated as the day goes on, earlier stories appear lower down the page and later stories are at the top);
Long thought extinct, ivory-billed woodpecker rediscovered in Big Woods of Arkansas [Eurekalert from a joint press release from Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the Nature Conservancy]
Report: 'Extinct' bird sighted in Louisiana [Associated Press/WFAA News, Dalla-Fort Worth]
Woodpecker Thought Extinct Rediscovered [Associated Press, in San Francisco Chronicle]
Woodpecker Thought Extinct Rediscovered [LA Times]
It's confirmed: Ivory-billed woodpecker isn't extinct after all [Reuters News Service]
Woodpecker Thought Extinct Rediscovered [ABC News]
Woodpecker Thought Extinct Rediscovered [Washington Post News]
Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Scientists, Partners to Announce Dramatic Discovery Related to Species Conservation [US Newswire]
Woodpecker 'rediscovery' sets birders all atwitter [AZ Central.com]
Rare woodpecker found in Arkansas [Seattle Times]
Ivory-billed Woodpecker refound in USA [BirdLife International]
Birders all atwitter over report of ivory-bills [Star Tribune] (you have to sign in for this story)
'Extinct' Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Found in Arkansas [Reuters News]
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is Rediscovered in Arkansas! [personal account by one of the original observers]
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