Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Here's My Post from last winter about going to the Florida panhandle. I couldn't say then why I was going down there, but now that the news is out I thought I'd post something about it. My friend Tyler Hicks was working down at Auburn University doing breeding bird work when him and a couple others from their lab decided to look for some suitable Ivory-billed habitat. Looking at maps they found a nice spot along the Choctawhatchee River a few miles south of Ponce De Leon, FL. Mainly they wanted to see some big timber and just take a look around, but instead Tyler got an eyefull of an Ivory-billed flying overhead. Tyler called me and left a message that he had some good news. For some reason I knew. We had always talked about the woodpecker and knowing he was in the southeast I just had a feeling. When he told me he had seen one I had no doubts. I've been birding with Tyler for a long time and he has amazing skills. So during winter break I headed down to take a look for myself. Just before I arrived the search team had quite a few detections and even a video that had captured the IBWO's double-knock. It was quite a thrill to kayak through some very old cypress forest and spend time searching. I was content with that, but one morning I heard two double-knocks and nearly lost it! There was nothing else it could have been. I tried getting closer, but never got a glimpse of the double-knocker.

Here are the last known Ivory-bills found in the Singer Tract in Louisiana in the 30's.

There is still no undisputable evidence. The paper they wrote is called "Evidence Suggesting that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers (Campephilus principalis) Exist in Florida." They are being careful not to assert any kind of certainty. They learned from the Cornell paper that has been criticized.

The only other woodpecker that could make a similarly loud knock are the Pileated Woodpeckers, but they do not do the "double-knock" like Ivory-bills, so until it is proven that Pileateds are capable of doing that knock I will be convinced I heard an Ivory-billed. And I still have no doubts of what Tyler saw.

A pic of a cavity from the site.

Here is Geoff Hill's Auburn site about the search.

I'm in here somewhere.

Here is the University of Windsor's IBWO site. They did all of the sound data.

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