Published the day the first Arkansas reports were hurriedly published in the journal Science: reaction from ornithologists, a map of the Cache River refuge, and links.
Published: April 28, 2005
A Great Day for Conservation
John James Audubon's iconic painting shows one male and two female Ivory-billed Woodpeckers
UPDATED with the latest media reports
April 28, 2005 -- Birders awoke today to news that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker lives. Rumors of the "Lord God Bird's" existence and possible sightings over the 60 years since the last known bird was seen failed to provide proof. But today, conservationists, government biologists, and ornithologists announced that the species lives on in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Arkansas.
John W. Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and other researchers reported the news in the journal Science and on its Science Express website, including multiple sightings of the elusive woodpecker and frame-by-frame analyses of brief video footage. The evidence was gathered during an intensive year-long search in the Cache River and White River national wildlife refuges involving more than 50 experts and field biologists working together as part of the Big Woods Conservation Partnership.
"The bird captured on video is clearly an Ivory-billed Woodpecker," said Fitzpatrick. "Amazingly, America may have another chance to protect the future of this spectacular bird and the awesome forests in which it lives."
"It is a landmark rediscovery," said Scott Simon, director of the Nature Conservancy's Arkansas chapter. "Finding the Ivory-bill in Arkansas validates decades of great conservation work and represents an incredible story of hope for the future."
Newly formed by the Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab, the Big Woods Conservation Partnership is leading efforts to save the area where the woodpecker was seen. Its website offers a fact sheet about the Ivory-bill, an introduction to the search team that discovered the bird, and photos of the refuge, team members, and a 1935 photo of the woodpecker.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, has restricted access to approximately 5,000 acres of the refuge. The service says that only researchers will be allowed access to the area, which is within the Bayou DeView drainage from Highway 38 southward to Dagmar Wildlife Management Area.
The service expects an influx of birders from across the country and beyond to come to see the bird. The best viewing opportunity for birders is on the adjacent Dagmar Wildlife Management Area, managed by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Viewing areas and the restricted "managed access areas" are designated on this map (provided as a PDF by the Fish and Wildlife Service).
Birders who wish to see the Ivory-bill are encouraged to not endanger, even inadvertently, this extraordinary species. "Today's news of the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas is the most exciting news in my lifetime," said Steve Runnls, president/CEO of the American Birding Association. "As birders, we recognize that the preservation of this species is far more important than adding it to our life lists."
Cache River NWR map
What Birders Are Saying
Well-known birders and ecologists are blogging and talking about the rediscovered Ivory-bill. Here are links to their insights and observations and other pertinent websites:
Tim Barksdale, a member of the search team, says the surviving Ivorybills "have become very wary of humans" and are probably ranging over a huge area of the Southeast
One of our favorite ornithologists: Rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker: Pandora's box?
Scott Weidensaul, author of The Ghost with Trembling Wings and Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds wrote to the Pennsylvania birding listserv [link no longer available]
Mary Scott, long-time sleuth of Ivory-bill sightings: The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is Rediscovered in Arkansas!
"Grrlscientist" blog, which has posted no-longer-confidential emails from insiders on the rediscovery: Another Confidential-No-More email Message
Julie Zickefoose, bird artist and NPR commentator, has been dreaming of ivory-billed woodpeckers since she was eight years old.
The American Birding Association's Ivory-bill web page
Laura Erickson, author, Birder's World contributor, and radio commentator, wonders, in her daily "For the Birds" radio spot and on her blog, what the Ivory-bill's reprieve "demands of us."
Chuck Hagner, Birder's World editor, talked about Ivory-bills with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
National Public Radio science correspondent Christopher Joyce joined the search last January along Arkansas' White River. See NPR's "Radio Expeditions" coverage here.
Phillip Hoose, author of The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, told NPR that it seems "stunning and miraculous" that the bird survives.
Chat about the discovery in our Birdwatchers Forum
Supporting online material from the Science report, including video footage of the bird
In the June 2002 issue of Birder's World, woodpecker expert Jerome A. Jackson wrote about attempts to find Ivory-billed Woodpeckers -- and what it would mean if the birds were found
What to Read
Books about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker include:
The Grail Bird : The Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker by Tim Gallagher, Houghton Mifflin, June 6, 2005
In Search of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker by Jerome A. Jackson, Smithsonian Books, 2004
The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004
The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker by James T. Tanner, Dover Publications, 1942, reissued 2003
Hope Is the Thing with Feathers : A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds by Christopher Cokinos, Warner Books, 2001
Extinct Birds by Errol Fuller, Comstock Publishing, 2001
The Latest Media Reports
OnPoint Radio interview with Tim Gallagher and Bobby Harrison, WBUR, 5/4
Tricky Politics: the return of the ivory-billed woodpecker, The Free Press, 5/4
Found in Arkansas: Hope on Wings, New York Times, 5/3
The Woodpecker in All of Us, New York Times, 5/3
When Do They Call an Animal Extinct? Slate, 5/2
Newfound Bird Hidden Till Fall, Cox News Service, 5/2
Pennsylvania State Museum exhibits rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker
Arizona Woman Saw Rare Bird in '03, Arizona Republic, 5/1
Woodpecker Back from the Brink, St. Paul Pioneer Press, 4/29 [article available for purchase]
Lazarus Revived, Chicago Tribune, 4/29