With wood ducks and barred owls sized for ivory-billed woodpeckers
, for instance, and screech owls fitting neatly into red-cockaded holes across the longleaf ecosystem, we quickly realize the significant role these birds play as ecosystem engineers, and, dare I say, the architects of evolution in some cases.
THE NEWS of the 2004 sighting first became public in April of 2005, asserted this way on NPR: "The ivory-billed woodpecker
, thought long gone, has been seen on the White River in Arkansas.
One of the extinct species was the ivory-billed woodpecker
, so the best-case scenario now stands at 3 extinct and 2 critically endangered.
Once the ivory-billed woodpecker
was widespread in the forests of the lower Mississippi valley.
We have lost most of the vast old-growth forests of the South, and nothing symbolizes that loss more than the ivory-billed woodpecker
The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture states unequivocally that the ivory-billed woodpecker
, long listed as extinct, "was rediscovered in the Big Woods of east Arkansas in 2004.
At the start of this century, most naturalists thought the ivory-billed woodpecker
had been hunted to extinction.
Critics, both inside and outside the American environmental community contend that these groups make their share of questionable calls too: The National and Arkansas Wildlife Federations sued to halt construction of the Grand Prairie Irrigation Project, for example, on the grounds that it threatens a wooded area where the once-thought-extinct, ivory-billed woodpecker
may or may not have been sighted two years ago.
What's harder to find--an ivory-billed woodpecker
or a Jim Coburn lawn sign?
Species facing extinction include the whooping crane, the recently re-discovered ivory-billed woodpecker
, and the Torrey pine in the United States, as well as lesser-known species like the Ruo River screeching frog and the Ethiopian water mouse.
The rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker
(Campephilus principalis) in Arkansas, announced April 28, 2005, is one of the most memorable events in the history of the National Wildlife Refuge System and North American ornithology.
And then there's the ivory-billed woodpecker
, rediscovered in 2004 in the cypress swamps of Arkansas, to intense media attention after the story was released in 2005.
A Hot Springs man kayaking in eastern Arkansas spotted a supposedly extinct 20-inch ivory-billed woodpecker
The ivory-billed woodpecker
had not been seen in North America since the late 1940s, when the wooded home of the last known individuals along the Tensas River in Louisiana was cleared for soybean fields and stripped of its largest trees for timber.
In our ornithology laboratory, I can admire the mounted skin of a Labrador duck or heath hen, Carolina parakeet or ivory-billed woodpecker
, or any of ten passenger pigeons.