Hopeful Signs

January 2007

Approximate historical range of the ivory-bill, adapted from Tanner 1942 and Jackson 2004. Source: The Birds of North America Online

The search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is active in the southeastern states making up the bird’s historic range. Some of these searches are reporting potential signs of ivory-bills. Geoff Hill from Auburn University in Alabama, heading up the effort in the Choctawhatchee River area, is noting possible new sightings from early January in addition to his reports of possible sightings and sounds from 2006.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology continues to be very encouraged by what Hill’s team is reporting. The Lab's ivory-bill project scientists have not evaluated the Florida data, but our mobile search team is now in Florida and will be joining Hill’s group later this month. If you’d like to learn more about what the Florida search team is reporting, visit the web site maintained by Auburn University.

In mid-December there were also some possible sightings reported in eastern Arkansas, where the Cornell Lab of Ornithology continues to search with the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, The Nature Conservancy, Audubon Arkansas, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission. The Associated Press in Arkansas interviewed two local men who reported seeing a female ivory-bill near the community Cotton Plant. Cornell staff and volunteers continue to follow up on recent reports from the public in the Wattensaw Wildlife Management Area.

The first team of volunteer searchers arrived on schedule in Arkansas on January 3. Each group of ten will stay for at least two weeks, although some are electing to remain longer. They are assisting the full-time staff in surveying areas not searched before, especially in the White River National Wildlife Refuge.

Congaree National Park in South Carolina. (L-R) Katie Martin (TNC), Nathan Banfield (CLO), Amy Leist (TNC), Zach Nelson (TNC), Martjan Lammertink (CLO), Chris McCafferty (CLO), Utami Setiorini (CLO). Photo by Martjan Lammertink.

The Lab’s ivory-bill mobile search team is keeping all of us up-to-date with their adventures in South Carolina, Georgia, and now Florida via their travel log. They worked closely with the search team in South Carolina, deploying remote cameras and autonomous recording units, and surveying some really exciting habitat. Keep checking back to track their progress and see some of the great photographs they’re sending!

--Pat Leonard