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07 May 2005
Rest and ivory-billed woodpecker news
I've spent the last few days in the field working on our experimental plots around the state and boy, am I tired and sore. Springtime is a bit crazy getting all our sampling and field preparation done. My body cannot adjust to getting up and down from my hands and knees hundreds of times per day or driving soil samplers into the ground this quickly. I think I'll use the day to rest and recuperate so that I can enjoy myself playing soccer tomorrow and then start the insane work week all over again.

I've been a bit behind the ivory-billed woodpecker story since I've been a bit busy, but my friend Lisa filled me in. It's easy to find the absolute TON of information available on the web as well. Here's a link to the article in Science by the birders from the Cornell Lab or Ornithology, the Nature Conservancy and various Alabama wildlife agencies. The whole story of discovery and identification is pretty cool.

image from the 1935 Louisiana expedition

From the Cornell Lab's description of 15 sightings from February 2004 to February 2005:
February 11, 2004: At about 1:30 P.M., while kayaking through the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in Arkansas, Gene Sparling of Hot Springs, Arkansas, watched as a huge and unusual woodpecker with a red crest flew toward him and landed on a nearby tree. The bird hitched around the tree in what he later described as a "herky jerky" or "cartoon-like" motion. Sparling noticed several field marks suggesting that the bird was an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

About a week later, Tim Gallagher, editor of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's Living Bird magazine, and Bobby Harrison, associate professor at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, interviewed Sparling about his sighting after reading a post on a web site. Gallagher and Harrison had been following up on ivory-bill sightings in preparation for a book Gallagher was writing. Sparling's description was so convincing that Gallagher and Harrison traveled to Arkansas so that Sparling could take them back to the bayou where he had seen the bird.

The Cornell Lab and The Nature Conservancy have lots, lots more. As does every other wildlife and birding agency and website hoping to affiliate themselves with this profile-enhancing and revenue-generating opportunity. Do visit Hedwig the Owl's blog for lots of behind the scenes details.

The plan used to prepare the discovery site and surrounding area in advance of the public announcement of the confimred discovery sounds like it was a thing of beauty. They managed to keep the many-thousand-acre area safe from the cetrain onslaught of lunatic birders thirsty for a new entry on their life lists. The planning and implementation of this protection plan were impressive. Well done.

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