Thursday, January 30, 2014

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Identified as Louisiana 'Ghost Bird', 2006

Fun Fact: As of 2006, the critically endangered ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), native to Louisiana and believed to be extinct, has been rediscovered in old-growth Bald Cypress forests of Bayou DeView, located seven kilometers northwest of Brinkley, Arkansas. #conservation #ghostbird

From the EOS Science Journal, 2006: Fig. 1. An ancient Bald Cypress tree in the 800-year age class at Bayou DeView, Arkansas, the rediscovery site of the ivory-billed woodpecker (diameter 2.6 meters at 2 meters above ground). David Stahle, who reported the sighting, pictured for scale.

From The Birds of America by naturalist and painter John James Audubon, containing illustrations of a wide variety of birds of the United States. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is featured as Plate 66 and shows the rare bird with all of its color and proud plumage on display. The Birds of America was first published as a series in sections between 1827 and 1838, in Edinburgh and London.

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is 20" in length with a 30" wingspan, making it one of the largest woodpeckers of the world. The Bird's bill is the color of ivory, thus its name. Ivory-Bills have a variety of white and sleek black markings down their back and wings, however their wings are mostly white in color.

In 1939, Jim Tanner, a Cornell ornithologist who spent much of his professional career documenting the last remaining populations of the bird, estimated that about 25 ivory-billed woodpeckers remained in Florida, Louisiana and South Carolina. This rare photo of a juvenile of the species was taken by Tanner showing the bird perched on his field guide's hat.

Trailer for the 2009 film Ghost Bird, from Youtube:

"Set in a murky swamp overrun with birders, scientists, and reporters, this critically acclaimed documentary is an eco-noir exploring the limits of certainty, the seductive power of hope, and how one phantom woodpecker changed a sleepy Southern town forever."