The Ivory-billed Woodpecker -
Still with Us!

27,28 April 2005

The great news that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is NOT extinct as was feared, has been filling the email boxes of birders, hitting the newspapers, and local and national TV news broadcasts, to the delight of  nature-lovers all around the country.  What wonderful, unexpected news!

 Here are some links and other writings and information about this amazing event.

Links to Articles:

"The Ivory-billed Woodpecker has been found alive in Arkansas! This is no Joke!
It is already up on the Nature Conservancy Site even though the links are 

dead.  There is going to be a press conference at the Department of the
Interior tomorrow at 11:30 am eastern time to announce the findings of a 2 year
study by Cornell:

Nature Conservancy Article

This is absolutely Amazing!

Good Birding


New York Times article (2 Aug 2005 ) provided by Sherry

Article by Mary Scott  ( 27 Apr 2005)  provided by Tim Avery

National Public Radio Article (with photo - 27 Apr 2005)  provided by John Cavitt

Seven Sightings of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker  provided by Matt Williams

Facts about the Bird  (Cornell Lab.) provided by James McIntyre

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Field Guide Page  (Sibley Website) provided by Tim Avery

Poem written on the occasion
by Glenda Cotter

April 28, 2005

On Hearing the News That
Ivory-billed Woodpeckers Have Been Found
Do you suppose that this is how they felt, the
friends of Lazarus, when he was seen to walk again?
Seen to blink and pause and breathe
among the living things of the world–
his friends seeking one another
not to console, as they’d done so often,
but in a moment of immense happiness
and disbelief, stirred by euphoria
at news so good that almost
it defied all comprehension.
So much has been given to grief and loss,
thoughts have so long been troubled
by the struggle to save a memory or a fragment,
then let hope sing
at this chance
for resurrection.
A grand bird given back
after sixty years of absence
by some unnameable grace:
What’s black and white and red all over,
and ivory-billed and so long gone?
Something that is both blessing and confirmation
at a moment when the tide had nearly
turned to despair for all that has been lost
and all that is going to be lost and for
everything in this miraculous world
that will never come again under this
sea of cloud and sky and sun.
And yet they have been found.
Believe the words in this one instance,
for a single immaculate moment,
and believe again in possibility:
some of the missing do return
and we are given up to our rejoicing.

Glenda Cotter, copyright 2005 
(May not be reproduced without permission)

Email and Forwarded Message from Mark Stackhouse

Here's a note from the local folks about the Ivory-billed and the IBA program there. It's especially of interest to anyone who wants to try to see this bird, as it has a link to information about where to go to see it. Apparently there are certain areas off-limits, but they have designated sites where the bird has been seen that birders can go to
look for it.

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
From: Dan Scheiman <birddan@COMCAST.NET>
Subject: The Ivory-billed and the IBA
Date: Fri, 29 Apr 2005 16:28:06 +0000


Little did I know when I moved to Arkansas three weeks ago to become Audubon Arkansas’ Bird Conservation Director that an Ivory-billed Woodpecker would be found in the state. It is lucky for me, and especially lucky for Arkansas. It is also good that the area where the species was found has already been declared an Important Bird Area by Audubon – The Cache-Lower White Rivers IBA. The adjacent Bayou DeView, where sightings have occurred, also is an IBA. The IBA program was established to identify and monitor sites that harbor birds of
conservation interest, significant numbers of birds, and their habitat. The finding of this woodpecker suggests that the IBA program is successfully identifying such sites. And now the Cache-Lower White Rivers IBA is not only a state IBA but a GLOBAL IBA – that is something Arkansans can be proud of!

We are all eager to see this bird and add it to our lifelist, but I encourage restraint; too many birders out there at once could disturb the bird. We should all promote the American Birding Associations code of conduct among birders and non-birders alike. The Cache River NWR personnel have declared 5,000 acres off limits to the public, but have also suggested other areas where the bird may be viewed. For more information, including a map, see

More about the IBA program

The Important Bird Areas program is the focal point for Audubon’s bird conservation work. It is a global effort to identify areas most important for bird populations, and to focus conservation efforts on those sites. The foundation of the IBA program is its emphasis on science-based identification, monitoring and conservation of birds and the habitats they need to survive. The Important Bird Areas Program starts with the foundation of site identification and prioritization for conservation action. It relies on local stewardship and at the core focuses on engaging individuals, private landowners, local communities, and government agencies. The result is a network of IBAs
with a community of support working to conserve, restore, and maintain bird habitats. Audubon chapters and volunteers constitute a true team of IBA citizen scientists, studying species population trends, assessing breeding success, evaluating threats to bird populations, and keeping ever-watchful eyes on the places birds depend on. These places can be National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks and other public, protected lands, but they can
also be private farms, ranches, or reserves, local parks, and other important private lands.

A form for nominating your favorite birding area as an IBA can be found at Audubon Arkansas’ website

Dan Scheiman, Ph.D.
Bird Conservation Director, Audubon Arkansas
201 East Markham St., Suite 450
Little Rock, AR 72201
501-244-2231 (fax)

Response to above by  Dave Rintoul

Perhaps a better approach would be to donate the money you might spend on a trip to Arkansas to the Nature Conservancy, the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, or Audubon. You would even put it into a savings account that might allow your children to go to Arkansas in a few decades, when hopefully
the population(s) of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers are large enough to not be affected by too many humans. Or spend the money to travel to someplace else wher the bird has been reported in the past few decades, and see if you can help find another population. All of these things would help ensure that your kids might get to see the bird someday.

The birds apparently did OK for 60+ years without us; I think we should give them about 60 more. Don't get me wrong; I'd love to see one myself. But the ego gratification of having that bird on my personal life list is not worth the very real risk that we will now "love them to death". We don't know enough about this population; if there are only a couple of birds or a couple of pairs, they probably don't need more humans in the area. This is surely one case where birders can see that it is better to err on the side of caution, and put aside personal desires vis-a-vis their life lists.

And, as noted above, if you have the money to travel to Arkansas, there might be better ways to spend it.


Dave Rintoul, Ph.D.
Currently on sabbatical leave at the University of Utah

Response to above by  Mark Stackhouse

I agree completely with Dave's thoughts on this. Hopefully the individual found does not represent a lone remnant individual like the last female in the Singer tract in Louisiana in the 40's. We would all like to see this bird return to a viable population that makes it possible for birders of many generations to see. Certainly contributions to the organizations mentioned may help. It has been mentioned as well by those involved in the conservation efforts that the help of birders in finding other areas that have also Ivory-billed Woodpeckers would be most welcome. However, I would not want to heap guilt upon those birders who wish to try and see this bird (please understand that for my part I don't plan on going), as long as they
obey the rules laid out by the management team and observe the highest standards of birding ethics. If you look at the map and read the management restrictions, you can see that there has been considerable thought put into how to make the area available to birders who want to try for the bird (while also being frank about how slim the chances are of seeing one) without compromising the survival of the species.

One element in the conservation effort that has been ignored in the discussions I've seen so far is the role of the local people. The conservation of this species will not be accomplished through the efforts of the government agencies and conservation organizations alone. There are people living there, who make their living from the land, often with practices that conflict with the goal of ensuring the survival of this species. After all, that is why the bird was pushed to the brink of extinction in the first place. The local people will be
asked to make very real sacrifices to save this bird. They will be asked to sell their land, reforest land they currently farm, allow flooding in places where it is now controlled, and accept new restrictions on the use of public lands they used to enjoy freely. All this may come with no tangible benefit to them. There is a very real chance that what now appears to be some local pride over the finding of this bird could quickly change to resentment. Without the continued cooperation of the locals in the conservation efforts, these efforts will fail. We see much the same situation right here in Utah with the Gunnison Sage-Grouse in San Juan County, where conservation efforts are hampered by indifference and antipathy of the local landowners.

The economic boost that responsible birding tourism can bring to the area would go a long way to ensure that the local people stay firmly behind the efforts to save the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. If all birders
stay away, what then?

Mark Stackhouse


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