April 29, 2005 in Nation/World

Bird not extinct after all

Knight Ridder
 
Associated Press photo

An engraving by John James Audubon shows an ivory-billed woodpecker. The last confirmed sighting of the birds had been in 1944.
(Full-size photo)

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.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email