2007-08 Ivory-billed Woodpecker Field Season Underway

January 2008

The leaves and the temperatures have fallen, heralding the start of another field season in the Ivory-billed Woodpecker research project. Searches are being conducted across many southeastern states that make up the ivory-bill’s traditional range, including Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina.

Dateline: Arkansas

The Arkansas field crew heads downstream for more surveys in the White River Refuge. Photo by Martin Piorkowski

A team of six biologists is now in Arkansas, fielded by the Arkansas chapter of The Nature Conservancy, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The team’s primary goal is to search remote areas in the northern unit of the White River National Wildlife Refuge, camping in the forest for several days at a time. They will also revisit lightly-searched areas from past seasons, taking inventories of suitable habitat and tree cavities. “Hot spots” from last season will get another look, including the Wattensaw Wildlife Management area where a cluster of possible encounters occurred in 2006-07. Search techniques that require a larger group will take place during March with selected volunteers assisting the search team.

New efforts this season include aerial surveys carried out by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the use of a double-knock device that simulates the characteristic drum of Campephilus woodpeckers such as the ivory-bill. A number of these devices were produced at Congaree National Park and will be loaned to search teams.

On the road again

The mobile search team is surveying several states, looking for good ivory-bill habitat. Photo by Nathan Banfield

Four biologists on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology mobile search team began their travels began in the Sabine River area of east Texas in early December. Next, they will survey habitat in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida, joining up with other search teams along the way. They will follow up on areas of promising habitat identified by the first mobile search team during the 2006-07 field season.

Share the journey!

Both the Arkansas team and the mobile search team are keeping a public record of their activities on this web site, offering insights on what they find and sharing photos from their daily activities. Check back often to get the latest from their travel logs!