Ivory-billed Woodpecker News: Confidential No More
Email forwarded to me by a colleague, R. Moyle, for your reading pleasure. This is an email from Van Remsen, Curator of Birds and an Adjunct Professor of Biological Sciences at Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science. He was one of the participants in the "Ivory-billed Woodpecker search party".
CONFIDENTIAL -- please do not forward this email until Thursday afternoon.
So that you hear it from ME and not from your TV screen ... Tomorrow at noon, there will be a national press conference at Dept. of Interior in Washington DC to announce that we have confirmation that at least one Ivory-billed Woodpecker still lives.
I have been part of a clandestine team over the last 7+ months that has attempted to obtain tangible evidence of the existence of this bird in the Cache River/White River area of SE Arkansas, following a reliable sighting last February. The team has been lead by Arkansas Nature Conservancy people and Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and they will be the headliners in DC. Watch the evening news tomorrow (Thursday). Our technical paper will be published online by Science Thursday, and the print version should be out in a few weeks (including a cover).
I agreed to keep this a secret from everyone. I apologize for the secrecy -- I feel bad about not being able to let any of you know about it -- but I know you'll understand. Our search team has decided to let selected groups of people (like you) know the basics before you hear it from media.
We were originally planning the press conference for 5/18, but the word got out within a week after we divulged our evidence to state and federal wildlife agencies last week.
-- no, we do not have a nest or reliable way to see IBWOs, yet.
-- yes, we have tangible evidence -- a lousy, blurry, but indisputable video clip that will be available on the web, possibly Thursday.
-- despite many thousands of hours of systematic searching and deployment of dozens of Autonomous Recording Units, we have only a few reliable glimpses, and, on tape, some double-raps and some 'kent' calls. The bird (no evidence for more than one) is incredibly wary, mostly silent, and uses the core search area only a couple of days every couple of months, as best as we can tell. It has mostly eluded a core of experienced field people. No surprise, then, that I had no luck either.
-- by tomorrow, our web site on all this will be available, including directions on access points if anyone wants to try their luck.
LSU Museum of Natural Science
Foster Hall 119, LSU
Baton Rouge, LA 70803
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