Thursday, April 28, 2005

Finally, some good news!

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, thought for 60 years to be extinct, has recently been sighted ("rediscovered") in the bottomland forests of Arkansas. After a year of gathering evidence to confirm initial sightings, an official confirmation of the re-emergence of the species was published today in Science Magazine.

The IBW is a classic example of the negative impact that human devastation of natural habitat and ecosystems can have on species. Its initial disappearance is directly attributable to clearcutting of the Southern forests in which it thrived. Fortunately, the IBW was somehow able to regroup and renew its lineage, despite our best efforts to send the species to that great, crowded birdcage in the sky.

A bunch of carpetbaggers from New York (Ithaca, to be precise) are largely responsible for the expeditions that led to the sightings, and they have an excellent and informative website devoted to re-welcoming the IBW. The Nature Conservancy, along with Cornell Lab of Ornithology and several local and national groups have formed the Big Woods Conservation Partnership to conserve forest habitat and rivers in the Big Woods area of Arkansas. The combined efforts of the Nature Conservancy and the Arkansas Natural Heritage commission to protect forest habitat in this region since 1982 surely played a pivotal role in the re-emergence of the woodpeckers.

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