In preparing a book on the search for the ivory-billed woodpecker
in Louisiana, Steinberg ran down many of the reported sightings.
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." But was it?
(One of the extinct species was the ivory-billed woodpecker
, so the best-case scenario now stands at 3 extinct and 2 critically endangered.) Likewise, in tropical forests such as the Atlantic Forest of Brazil and the island chains of Indonesia and the Philippines, where deforestation is more recent, the species-area relation accurately predicts or underestimates the number of threatened bird species--an expected result, says Pimm, because in many areas other threats such as invasive species and over-hunting also contribute to species endangerment.
Once the ivory-billed woodpecker
was widespread in the forests of the lower Mississippi valley.
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?
During my visit, a video presentation told of the continuing search for the ivory-billed woodpecker
in the Big Woods of Arkansas.
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.
This vast tract of bottomland forest, sloughs and lakes in east-central Arkansas includes the Arkansas Big Woods, where multiple sightings in 2004 and 2005--including a snippet of video--persuaded even some distinguished ornithologists that the ivory-billed woodpecker
, long thought to be extinct, was still in flight.
The book comprises short, detailed essays that describe Elliott's experiences in the field while collecting recordings from such birds as the great horned owl, mourning dove, green warbler, and, perhaps, the ivory-billed woodpecker
. Each essay is accompanied by full-color images of the featured bird and graphical representations of its sounds.