The Bird is Back (or is it?)

Through the second half of the 20th century, there were numerous sightings of Ivory Billed Woodpeckers throughout the Southeast. All were discounted by the ornithological establishment.

  • 1966-69: John Dennis investigates sightings sightings in the Big Thicket region of Texas, records double raps and kent calls. "Even with the evidence he had, ornithologists would not accept his findings," says bird photographer and IBW hunter Bobby Harrison.
  • 1971: Fielding Lewis shoots a photo which he believes to be of an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. The photo is presented to the Ornithological Society and is rejected.
  • 1999: Turkey Hunter David Kullivan says he saw two Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers in the Pearl River region of Louisiana. "For the first time in 55 years, an Ivory-Billed sighting is taken seriously," says Harrison.
    Cornell Lab of Ornithology sends a team to investigate but finds nothing.
  • 2003: Mary Scott of Prairie Lakes, Ark., reports an Ivory-Billed sighting. Harrison and Tim Gallagher follow up to investigate and find evidence.
  • 2003: Fifty miles to the south of Prairie Lakes, kayaker Gene Sperling reports a sighting. Sperling says it "looked like a Pileated Woodpecker on steroids."
  • 2004: Gallagher and Harrison investigate Sperling's sighting in Bayou de View, Ark. The area has 1,000-year-old cypress trees that were left alone by loggers because they are mostly hollow. Harrison and Gallagher report seeing a female Ivory-Billed. Cornell Lab sends a team to verify and report five sightings.
  • 2006: Journal of Science reports Gallagher and Harrison's evidence. The finding is also accepted by the Department of Interior.
  • 2006: Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers reported in the Choctawhatchee River swamps of Northern Florida.
Courtesy The Nature Conservancy
This painting by Alabama artist Larry Chandler is a depiction of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker that Bobby Harrison and Tim Gallaghar reporting sighting in Arkansas in 2004.

Cache River
Mark Godfrey/The Nature Conservancy
This is a bird's-eye view of the Cache River winding through the Big Woods in Arkansas. Bobby Harrison and Tim Gallagher claim to have seen an Ivory-Billed while searching for the bird on the Cache.