Ivory Bill Woodpecker

woodpecker illustration

 

For a long time, scientists thought that the ivory-billed woodpecker was extinct. But then, it seems, the rare bird was rediscovered in 2004 in the swamplands of Arkansas--or so some scientists thought. (See the story in the February 2006 issue of Ranger Rick.)

But since then, many scientists have questioned whether or not the one video that seemed to show the ivory-bill did in fact do that. Some said what the video showed was a pileated woodpecker, not an ivory-bill. The video is blurry and the bird is far away. So who knows?

A team from Cornell University has been looking for more ivory-bills ever since. The supposed sighting of the ivory-bill was taken in a wildlife refuge, but other parts of its home are still in danger of disappearing. Why? As cities grow bigger and more roads are built, the nearby swamplands get smaller and more polluted. Also, in places people have pumped the water out for use on croplands. Such changes can mean fewer chances for the ivory-bill's survival.

That's why scientists and volunteers are still searching for signs of ivory-bills in the places the birds were known to once live. Other people, including some at the National Wildlife Federation, the group that publishes Ranger Rick, are working hard to protect these swampy places. This is good news—for the ivory-bill and also for the many other creatures that share its wild home.

In the spring of 2010, the Cornell team called off its search. It hadn't found any more ivory-bills and wasn't sure it would. You can read about the end of this long search for more ivory-bills here.

See for yourself:
You and your family can keep up with all the latest ivory-bill news at
nature.org/ivorybill online.

 

Illustration by Michael Slack

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