Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Yesterday afternoon Charles Ferguson called and asked if I'd like to go to Galveston and hear a talk by one of the men who "rediscovered" the ivory-billed woodpecker. I posted about this rediscovery last April and mentioned how exciting it was, so naturally I couldn't resist hearing all about it. We drove down to Galveston and had dinner at The Original Mexican Cafe. There were about ten people there, including Bobby Ray Harrison, the man who was one of the two to see the ivory-bill in April. It was nice to meet him in an informal setting and to talk to him a little bit about his adventures in birding.

After dinner Charles and I went to the Rosenberg Library for the formal program. Harrison showed a lot of slides and discussed his "obsession" with finding an ivory-billed woodpecker. His interest was roused by an article in Life magazine back in 1972, and he's been searching for the bird ever since. He finally found it in Arkansas in April. He freely admits that he believes others have seen the bird over the years, but none of those sightings have been confirmed. He was lucky enough to be with another birder, Tim Gallagher, and both of them saw the ivory-bill at the same moment. Since April there have been numerous other confirmed sightings in the same area.

Unfortunately there are no clear photographs of the woodpecker as yet. Apparently the bird is very shy. There have been a couple of recordings that have convinced ornithologists that the sightings are genuine, and I have high hopes that a decent photo will eventually be taken.

I enjoyed the talk, and it's a treat to know that the bird once thought extinct is still flying around the southern swamps.


Anonymous said...

I sure hope there's more than one of them. Steve

Frank Denton said...

Lucky you. I get a birding magazine from Cornell U. The last issue was all about the ivory-billed woodpecker. In good time there will be some new photos. It's pretty exciting that the species is still alive and well. And already the Nature Conservancy has purchased adjoining swampland to extend the birds protection from logging. Good stuff still hapens...occasionally.

Andy J said...

I can never get enough of these discovery type tales. If you haven't already seen it, there's a new tv show on that most famous of all prehistoric era surviving fish, the coelacanth. I've got two books on it and have seen earlier programs and still want more.