mzsmbs - 5/4/2005 3:00 PM
anybody seen any more on this subject? or any pix? i'd apprecaite links... hd crashed last weekend.. finally back up..
These are the folks in charge of the Cache River research that first reported the sighting. It has a video of what they claim is the bird itself. I believe them, mainly because they are respected scientists, not because that video means a dang thing to my eyes. The bird could be a magpie or a pintail, for all the resolution of that sorry-ass video.
DoI Scty Norton indicated that she would find money to expand the research and land acquistion; TNC is busy acquiring land.
If you want the best (only) treatise on the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, get a copy of, "Ivory-Billed Woodpecker", by Tanner (1942). It was written for educated people who enjoy reading while maintaining a strong eye to biology. In other words, its a good read with lots of careful observational back-up.
In it you'll learn that the birds prefer swamps with trees >12 DBH and that are in the floodplain but usually flood less than a couple of months out of the year. This is the southern bottomland hardwood forest. Typically, the canopy is composed of sweetgum, sugarberry, oaks, and elms. It's usually the batture area in the Mississippi Delta and also up along the Yazoo River. But in Mississippi, its almost all cotton and beans now. The Cache and White Rivers in AR are very challenging for folks who are accustomed to dry woods and open skies.
This should be jurisdictional wetlands, but swamp draining and clearing for farming has destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of that kind of land.
There are still large tracts of similar forest along the Mississippi River and west into nearly central Louisiana, which is where the last (previously) known breeding pair was sighted. That particular land is now owned by the US Gov, Tensas National Wildlife Refuge. It still has beautiful wild forest cover, but nobody has seen a Ivory-Billed since 1940's out there.
The bird was abundant (according to Audubon) in the swamps north of the present city of Houston in an area known as the "big thicket", a tiny portion of which is now a national park by that name. It occurred eastwarn to Florida, along all those smaller river areas like the Pearl, Wolf, Tchouticabouffa, Pascagoula, Mobile, Conecuh, Appalachicola etc down into central Florida where it was collected in the strands and hammocks. Thence northward along the major creaks and rivers of the coastal plain and lower piedmont into North Carolina.
It was never terribly abundant. Tanner estimated that a breeding pair required about 6 mi^2 of foraging habitat. In comparison, the somewhat similarly appearing Pileated Woodpecker he estimated at 6 pairs per mi^2!
I hate to say it, but this is a doomed bird. It's habitat requirements are so restrictive and under such developmental pressure that I just don't think this really neat creature has a chance.
But then, I think that's the general rule for most of life, especially given the human population's incredible growth rate and consumption rate. On my pessimistic days (MWF plus alternating weekends), I believe in my lifetime that I will witness mass starvation of humans accompanied by people eating any life they can find to sustain their own miserable lives.
Have a beer on me.