Thursday, April 28, 2005

Extinct Woodpecker Found Alive


The spectacular ivory-billed woodpecker, which was declared extinct in 1920, has been found alive in North America, Science magazine reports.
The news has stunned ornithologists worldwide, with some comparing the discovery to finding the dodo.

Researchers began an intense year-long search after a tip-off before finally capturing the bird on video.

The find has ignited hope that other "extinct" birds may be clinging on to survival in isolated places.

'Finding Elvis'

"This find is so significant that it is really difficult to describe," Alistair Gammell, of the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), told BBC News. "We sadly won't rediscover the dodo, but it is almost on that level."

Frank Gill, of the US National Audubon Society, added: "This is huge, just huge. It is kind of like finding Elvis."

The "stunning" red, white and black woodpecker was formerly distributed across the south-eastern United States and Cuba.

It's like a funeral shroud has been pulled back

Tim Gallagher, editor of Living Bird magazine
The bird carves out a narrow niche for itself by drilling in mature trees, and logging and forest clearance for agriculture began to impinge on its environment.

By 1920, it was assumed extinct, although there was one more confirmed sighting in North America of a lonely unpaired female, above the remnants of an over-cut forest.

Since then, decades of searches yielded nothing and hope gradually faded away.

Now, finally, the bird has been seen again in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas.

The discovery was first made on 11 February 2004, by Gene Sparling, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, who was kayaking in a reserve in Big Woods. He saw an unusually large red-crested woodpecker fly towards him and land on a nearby tree.

He said the creature did not look quite like anything he had seen before, so he contacted Cornell University's Living Bird magazine.

After a team of experts interviewed him, they felt they might be onto something special.


Does anyone buy this? A bird missing in North America for 85 years and then some guy just happens to see this by chance in a "remote" location? Nope, I don't buy it. something funny is going on.


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