The Search Continues

Here's the Latest in IBW News

With the interest in the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker increased exponentially in the last three years, researchers are attempting to capitalize on the newfound publicity to plan and fund further investigation of the species. At the same time, amateur ornithologists continue to search in hopes of being the one who captures the elusive bird on film for the first time in nearly six decades:

  • Aerial search: The state of Louisiana is attempting to receive federal funds to undertake a number of different searches. After attempts in 2005 to spot the bird using ultralight aircraft were foiled due to updrafts and bad weather, the new idea is to use helicopters or airplanes in the Pearl River area. Also in the mix for aerial searches are Texas and Mississippi.
  • IBW in Florida: Scientists reported seeing Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers during a search in the flooded forests along the Choctawhatchee River in May of 2005. Geoffrey Hill of Auburn University said he was within nine meters of the bird, but was unable to get a photograph. The team team has also collected sound recordings of the IBW.
  • IBW hunters flock to Arkansas: Since the reported 2004 sighting of an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker in the Cache River Wildlife Management Area in Arkansas, birders have flocked to the area in an attempt to be capture the first new picture of the IBW. The town of Brinkley, Ark., has attracted thousands of birders because of its proximity to the CRWMA. The town hosted "The Call of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Celebration" in February of this year and has reported a 30-percent increase in tourism dollars.
  • NASA joins hunt for IBW: Advanced three-dimensional imaging technology developed by NASA will be used in the hunt for the IBW. Flown onboard a research aircraft this in the spring of 2006, the Laser Vegetation Imaging Sensor, or LVIS, was used to scan 1.2 million acres of dense forest in the delta region of eastern Arkansas, in the lower Mississippi River Valley.
  • IBW genetics examined: Researchers at the Smithsonian's National Museum of History are conducting a study of the DNA of Ivory-Billed Woodpecker specimens from Cuba and the Southeastern United States. Analysis of the DNA sequences showed the specimens represent three distinct genetic lineages that split from their ancestor in the mid-Pleistocene era. The findings can also be used to test against any specimens found in current searches for the bird.
  • Upcoming IBW search: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon Arkansas are seeking volunteers to help search for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in an official capacity in eastern Arkansas between Jan. 3 and April 21, 2007.
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Tom Toles/Washington Post
The notoriety of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker has generated interest from both within the ortnithological community and among the public at large. To hear David Steadman, the Curator of Ornithology for the University of Florida'a Museum of Natural History, discuss the increased interest in birds outside the ornithological community thanks to the Ivory-Billed, click here.(1 minute, 27 second Windows Media file).