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IVORY-BILLS  LiVE???!  ...

=> THE blog devoted to news and commentary on the most iconic bird in American ornithology, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWO)... and... sometimes other schtuff.

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"....The truth is out there."

-- Dr. Jerome Jackson, 2002 (... & Agent Fox Mulder)

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

-- Hamlet

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

-- Arthur Schopenhauer

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


-- Happy Aprilversary --

April is happy anniversary month for several of the key Big Woods Ivory-bill sightings from 2 years ago. Today was the 2-year anniversary of Jim Fitzpatrick's (brother of the Cornell Director) sighting; April 10 will mark 2 years since Melinda LaBranche's report of an IBWO in flight, which was followed one day later by Melanie Driscoll's sighting. And finally, it was on April 25 that David Zapruder, er... uhh, I mean, Luneau captured the 4-second clip that would change his life.

BTW, here are a few of the other famous April happenings from Ivory-bill history:

April 1924: Arthur Allen locates/photographs a pair of Ivory-bills in central Florida.

April, 1932: Mason Spencer shoots an Ivory-bill in the Singer Tract and delivers it to a game warden to prove that the species which ornithologists believed was long extinct (but La. backwoodsmen knew full-well wasn't) was still around.

April, 1944: Donald Eckelberry views and sketches an Ivory-bill at the Singer Tract which some come to accept as the last confirmed sighting of the species in the U.S.

April, 1955: author and past Audubon President John Terres reports having seen 2 Ivory-bills fly over a highway near Homosassa Springs, Fla.

April, 1956: in the press, an Ivory-bill is reportedly shot in North Carolina though no evidence comes forth to support the claim.

April, 1966: an Ivory-bill is reported in the Neches River swamp area of east Texas.

April, 1967: the first of several sightings of Ivory-bills over a couple of years by H.N. Agey and and George Heinzmann in Polk County, Fla.

April, 1985: Dennis Garratt reports an Ivory-bill in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Fla.

April, 1999: David Kulivan reports 2 Ivory-bills in the Pearl River refuge of southeast La.



I was stunned by this sighting info., that you posted.
April, 1985: Dennis Garratt reports an Ivory-bill in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Fla
A very good friend of mine had a sighting in Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Fla in April OF LAST YEAR. He was not aware the bird was an Ivorybill, but he knew it was definitely not a Pileated. What he described fit an Ivorybill exactly. His sighting is currently being checked out by a contact, so I will not release more details here. I wonder if that area could be a possible travel corridor?
CT, do you have any info on the IB that was shot in NC? I wouldn't mind trying to look it up in the newspaper archives.
The Garratt sighting is actually fairly well-known because it was at relatively close range for upwards of 15 mins. and included hearing a call note. As usual though followup searches did not find the bird.
I likely shouldn't have even included the NC shot-Ivory-bill report since it has no credible backing, but since it happened in April I threw it into the mix. It is mentioned in Jackson's book (pg. 231) and I'm not sure I've ever seen it reported elsewhere. Jackson writes that the claim first appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer (Apr. 11, 1956) and was reprinted in Audubon Magazine (vol. 58, no.4)but with no followup. I assume he would've found it if there were any other significant news archives with info but you're welcome to try.
In all likelihood there is at least one pair in the JD state park area, I have spoken with a kayaker who has seen the bird on two occasions in the last 24 months. In the second sighting he described a large black and white woodpecker with no red crest, large white bill, and in both instances the bird has a proportionitally(sp)larger head than pileateds. The first sighting he had was with his wife and he told me that she thought the larger bird with white on it's body was the "mature" pileated. It had a red crest. I spoke with rangers at the park and was told that they frequently got reports of the bird(s) but dismissed them as pileated as no one has brought forth a picture. Bill
Cyberthrush; I have investigated the Agey/Heinzman sightings recently, and finally spoke by phone with two different friends of Norton Agey. One is the guy who took the IBWO feather and nest hole from Norton's house to the U.Florida museum shortly before Norton died. They both independently said that Norton described the site to them, many times, as "Highland County, near Highland Hammock State park." The landowner swore Agey/Heinzman to secrecy, which I imagine alienated some people who wanted to see the birds. How the idea it was Polk County got started I don't know--although I believe most or all of these people live(d) in Polk County.
In the article that was published regarding the Agey/Heinzman sightings it was stated that "An accurate description of the ivory-bill came from a state park early in 1970, within 50 miles of the woods," This state park was Highlands Hammock. Highlands and Polk county have vast ranches and pockets of swampy areas that have yet to be evaluated even today. I have spoken to people on ranches in both counties who claim to have seen the bird, even though many of these descriptions to me are pileateds but who knows? So much of the land is private and inaccessible. Bill
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