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April 30, 2005

Ivory billed woodpecker

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On Thursday ornithologists announced that the ivory billed woodpecker had been spotted in the swamps of Arkansas.

Birders and scientists were amazed. The woodpecker, described by James Audubon as the "great chieftan of the woodpecker race" and by James Wolcott as the "The Lord God Holy Grail Elvis of Little Peckers", was assumed to have been driven to extinction 60 years ago.

Eli of Left I on the News explains how this species nearly became a a casualty of war.

Also, check out Eli's fine feathered photos from his bird watching vacation. No ivory billed woodpeckers, but impressive all the same.

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» Ivory-billed update from Schenectady Synecdoche
Like Eli, I hadn't thought of birdwatching as political. But Eli's take on this near extinction is highly recommended reading. Via Majikthise.... [Read More]

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» Tuesday Baby Bunny Blogging from WhirledView
I almost put up an extra last Wednesday. I was pulling cheatgrass in and around a flowerbed where I want to plant a lilac, and suddenly I had the feeling that I just shouldn't pull that next handful without looking. [Read More]

Comments

This was my favorite bit of news this week.

I have woodpeckers all over the place --- downy, red-headed and pileated, who are close cousins of the ivory billed. The pileated are absolutely the most fun birds, very entertaining, and huge, although not as large as the ivory billed.

I live right next to the western edge of Arkansas, in close proximity to a national forest and a wildlife management area --- and I've been hoping maybe some of the ivory billed will show up here. Even though it's clear across Arkansas for them, we do have some swampy areas and a lot of old growth forest. It's a long shot, but maybe ...

The ivory-billed woodpecker should become a symbol of environmental conservation. If a breeding population exists, and sufficient habitat remains to sustain the species, then only the political will of humans shall determine whether the ivory-billed woodpecker will survive or truly become extinct. The next time I receive a solicitation from the Nature Conservancy, I plan to make a donation.

James Wolcott's desription is wrong. The ivory billed is not a "little pecker."

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