Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Woodpecker Once Thought Extinct Found Alive And Well

The ivory-billed woodpecker, once prized for its plumage and sought by American Indians as magical, was thought to be extinct for years. Now it's been sighted again and conservationists are exulting.

The striking bird, last seen in 1944, has been rediscovered in the Big Woods area of Arkansas, scientists and conservationists reported in late April.

Since early 2004 there have been several independent sightings, including one caught on videotape, of one or more of the birds, Fitzpatrick said.

That video of the bird's 3-foot wingspan and distinctive black-and-white markings confirmed the presence of the creature that seemed to have vanished after logging destroyed its habitat.

The ivory-billed woodpecker, one of the largest such birds in the world, is one of six North American bird species thought to have become extinct since 1880. The bird ranged widely across the southeastern United States at one time.

Once sought by Indians who believed that its bill possessed magical powers, the bird also was hunted for its feathers so they could adorn women's hats. Loss of habitat was its main threat, however.

Washington Post Articles:
*Woodpecker Thought Extinct Rediscovered
*Ark. Man Recalls Finding Rare Woodpecker
*Extinct? After 60 Years, Woodpecker Begs to Differ
*Rare Woodpecker's Home Remote, Dangerous
*Delta Towns Hope Woodpecker Brings Riches
* Ark. Bird Festival Revamped for Woodpecker

*Tim Gallagher, author, The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
The Nature Conservancy:


Anonymous said...

I live in NW DC on the columbia heights petworth border. While walking my dog in front I noticed a bird about the size of a sparrow with black and white markings and a red spot on its head and soon another came and joined it. They appeared to be pecking at the bark on a dead limb of a street tree. They did not have the huge beaks of this woodpecker but I'd like to know if they were in fact woodpeckers and if so what kind, but also if they are rare in DC. Thanks. --Leo

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