Posted by: Dan | July 20, 2006

2-month-old Cornell birding news

I’ve been a bit too busy (and lazy, I admit) to go birdwatching lately, but I want to put up some comments on Cornell bird stuff – namely, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The Spring 2006 search came to a close a couple months ago, and their year-end comments are available.

There were no definitive or confirmed visual encounters during the 2005-06 field season. The encounters from 2005-06 season are being treated as supporting evidence for the existence of ivory-bills, but not added confirmation.

By this, they mean that no searchers saw 2 or more field marks per sighting, and no photographic proof was obtained this year.

To the question of “Were ivory-bill sounds heard and recorded?”:

Full-time staff and volunteers reported hearing possible ivory-bill kent calls and double raps, in both the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge and the White River National Wildlife Refuge, in areas that are 62 miles apart… recordings are now being analyzed to see if they match the acoustic signature of an ivory-bill… Also, there are thousands of hours of recordings from the autonomous recording units that still have to be analyzed.

And concerning the question “Were any ivory-bill nest or roost holes discovered?”:

Searchers found at least 28 cavities in the Big Woods that are the right size and shape for an Ivory-billed Woodpecker and which would be too large for the Pileated Woodpecker. The search team developed a technique to measure the exact size of the cavities using a laser range-finder. It’s nearly impossible, just by looking, to tell exactly what species of woodpecker excavated or used a cavity. But there are some basic characteristics that can suggest a particular species.

The search team has, unfortunately, come to the conclusion however that the IBWO seen at least 7 times in 2004-2005 is no longer frequenting the Bayou de View area of the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. They conclude there is no nesting pair in Bayou de View. However, the team is much more optimistic about the White River National Wildlife Refuge area.

Sadly, the difficulties in searching probably mean that the population is so low, the odds are low for species recovery. Keep your fingers crossed.


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