The Ivory-billed Woodpecker

There may have been more book sightings than bird sightings so far. Articles in the New York Times (July 21 & 24, 2005) report a challenge to the recent sightings.

Two new adult titles: In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker by Jerome A. Jackson and The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker by Tim Gallagher and one new youth title: The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip M. Hoose relate the natural and human history of this bird that has recently been spotted in Arkansas after years of supposed extinction.

One last title is a Dover reprint of a 1942 National Audubon Society study on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and its distribution, habitat, ecology, reproductive and nesting habits, and a chapter on the requirements and general policy of a conservation program with a list of principal ivory-billed woodpecker localities and specific measures necessary for conservation.

Professor Arthur A. Allen of Cornell University wrote in the preface to this 1942 book: “The Ivory-bill is a product of the great force of evolution acting on American bird life in ages past, to produce in our southeastern United States the noblest woodpecker of them all – one that inspired Mark Catesby and John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson – one that has lured scores of recent ornithologists to the cypress jungles of South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana in the ardent hope of seeing one individual alive. Is it worth ten dollars to save it? Is it worth ten million dollars? It is worth whatever we must pay to preserve it before it is too late. I commend this report to you as the best working hypothesis we have for the possible preservation of this species that is balanced on the rim of extinction.”