Call of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Celebration

March 2006
by Sam Crowe

The first annual Call of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Celebration was held in Brinkley, Arkansas February 23, 24, and 25th.  The event included a products display area and world-class speakers, such as Pete Dunn, Marie Read and Martjan Lammertink.

Field trips to top birding areas were also held.  While there were no immediate reports of ivory-bills, the birding in the area was excellent.  A partial list of birds seen includes:

Bald Eagle
Thousands of Snow, Blue and White-fronted Geese
Wood Ducks were very common; other ducks reported include Lesser Scaup,  Shoveler, Mallard and Gadwall
Red-cockaded, Hairy, Downy, Red-headed, Pileated Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Smith's Longspur
Short-eared owl
Barred, Great Horned and Screech Owl
Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Winter Wren and Carolina Wren

Keynote speakers on the final day included David Luneau and Gene Sparling as well as Tim Gallagher and Bobby Harrison.

Pat Leonard ran the Lab's booth, shown here with her new IBWO license plate, soon to be attached to her classic Porsche.

Sam Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, addressed the Corridor of Hope meeting held the first day of the festival. The National Fish and Wildlife foundation has made a $125,000 matching grant available to support ecotourism efforts in the area.  The meeting was well attended and leaders from many diverse groups continued to emphasize the developing partnerships and recognized the role duck hunters have played in the past in the preservation of the Big Woods area.

Three up-and-coming birders from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology participated in the excellent birding opportunities in the Big Woods. (Gretchen Jesse, Nancy Rice and Pat Leonard)

The banquet dinner was sold out! The lucky attendees had a chance to meet, greet, and talk about woodpeckers. Mia Revels and Millicent Phillips were part of the first group of this year's volunteers. They are pictured here sandwiched between Gene Sparling and Beth Wright.

Double trouble here. Bobby Harrison (L) and Tim Gallagher (R) gave a wonderful presentation relating their experiences in first seeing the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.  The good-natured banter between the two kept the presentation lively as well as informative.

The white hair with red streak in the middle of the photo?  That's the president of the Brinkley Chamber of Commerce, sporting an ivory-billed haircut.

Congratulations to Brinkley and everyone who worked so hard in putting the event together. It was a great success and should be even better next year!