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Ivory-Billed Woodpecker: The Search Continues

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 2nd, 2008

The Associated Press has released the following breaking story moments ago:

Last year, Allan Mueller thinks he saw the elusive ivory-billed woodpecker. The wildlife biologist wants to make sure of it this winter.

Mueller plans to head back into the swamps of eastern Arkansas with a scaled-back search team consisting of 26 volunteers and three expert field biologists.

Searchers will begin their work in the Big Woods on Saturday [December 6, 2008]. The campaign will run through the bird’s nesting season in March and April when the ivory-bill is most active, Mueller said.

Although three previous searches involved more volunteers, more scientists and more time in the woods, Mueller feels confident he and his team will get results.

“We’re going to find a big black and white woodpecker,” he says flatly.

The huge bird was believed to be extinct until a sighting four years ago stirred national experts and federal funding to launch a full-blown campaign to verify the bird’s existence and study its habitat.

For want of a clean photograph or audio recordings of the bird’s distinctive sounds, searchers have been unable to convince fellow scientists that the bird has survived years of land development and loss of habitat.

Over the last four years, The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas, where Mueller is avian conservation manager, along with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and the Arkansas Audubon Society have collaborated to study the ivory-bill in Arkansas and enlist other groups to scout potential habitats in other Southern states.

Besides Arkansas, researchers say the bird has been seen and heard in the swamps of northwestern Florida. A Cornell team will soon begin looking in Florida and travel to Arkansas and elsewhere in the Southeast in hopes of spotting the bird.

Mueller reminds fishermen, hunters and the general public that they can help, too, by calling his office if they have a sighting. An anonymous donor has pledged a $50,000 reward to anyone who leads the team to a live ivory-bill, he said.

The Big Woods swallow up the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, where kayaker Gene Sparling says he spotted the bird Feb. 11, 2004, and Cornell University experts made subsequent sightings. Since then, searches have been made in about 83,000 of the 550,000-acre woods.

The latest volunteers will split up into five teams. A person from each team will search designated areas once a month so someone will be in that locale at least once a week, Mueller said.

Searchers will spend at least six hours a day in the woods, including sunrise or sunset, when the bird is most active. They will look for nest holes and for signs of a fresh feeding. Once they identify these, the group will fix a remote camera on them.

Each search team will use a double-knocker to attract the woodpecker. The wooden box is strapped to a tree and hit with hinged wooden dowels to replicate the sound the bird makes with its bill. A CD player will also be used to broadcast the bird’s distinctive call and attract the bird.“Search for ivory-billed woodpecker to begin anew,” by Peggy Harris, AP Writer, December 2, 2008.

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


4 Responses to “Ivory-Billed Woodpecker: The Search Continues”

  1. planettom responds:

    One of my favorites! I wish them the best of luck and hopefully come out with some good findings, if not some conclusive evidence!

  2. corrick responds:

    Ditto to everything planettom wrote.
    This is/was a truly spectacular North American bird. And more likely to exist than about 99% of the cryptid animals regularly discussed on this list, imho.
    No clue why it doesn’t get more attention from the cryptozoolgy community.

  3. sschaper responds:

    Wood-knockers, eh? Wouldn’t it be a hoot if something else came out of the woods? ;-)

  4. Valen responds:

    As an avid kayaker, I hope I can get to one of the areas of interest soon and take a look myself. I have no delusions of being better at sighting one than one of the official search teams, but I have a better chance of seeing one out in my boat than I do sitting at home! It was sighting by a guy in a kayak that started in the search in the Big Woods, so maybe lightening will strike twice!



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