WASHINGTON – Not seen for 60 years, the ivory-billed woodpecker – called “the flagship of American extinction” – is alive and soaring through Arkansas’ ancient cypress swamps.
Scientists on Thursday revealed that during the past 14 months veteran naturalists have spotted the largest American woodpecker seven separate times in the 550,000-acre Big Woods.
It’s unclear whether the sightings were of a single woodpecker or several different ones. The journal Science on Thursday published an account of the discovery online. In the past 85 years, scientists have three times pronounced the species extinct, said Jerome Jackson, an environmental studies professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. The bird was never put on the government’s official extinct list, though. It remains on the endangered species list.
The bird once soared through much of the southeastern United States before its old hardwood habitat was lost to development and logging.