Imperial Woodpecker paper - Martjan Lammertink and others have published a paper in The Auk documenting the only known motion-picture footage of this bird - the largest woodpecker ever to live on earth. Sadly the bird is almost certainly extinct now. But, you can see the bird in motion as shot in 1956 by William L. Rhein in Mexico.
Analysis of the flight of the female Ivory bill in Mr. Rhein's film, shows a wingbeat rate of 7.7 to 8.3 beats per second - a very rapid wingbeat for such a large bird. The bird is 2.4x heavier than a Pileated Woodpecker, yet the PIWOs wingbeat rate is documented at only 3.9 to 6.7 beats per second. This Imperial film confirms our evidence that IBWOs flap faster than PIWOs, and points out a bad assumption by Sibley et al, who stated, "The flapping rate of ivory-billed woodpecker is unknown, but flapping rates among other woodpeckers generally decrease with increasing body mass, which suggests that an ivorybilled woodpecker would flap at a slower rate than a pileated woodpecker." Note that the bird in my 2004 video had a wingbeat rate of 8.6 beats per second, and the IBWO in Tanner's 1935 recording had a wingbeat rate of 8.4 beats per second - both significantly faster than any known PIWO wingbeat rates.
When you watch the Ivory bill film, notice how shallow the wingbeats are. Obviously, that's how such a large bird beats its wings so rapidly. If her wingbeats were deeper, like a PIWO's, her wingbeat rate would necessarily be much slower. It seems fair (and logical) to say that these two Campephiluscousins (Imperial and IBWO) have similar flight styles.
The new wireless peeper camera is now available for purchase. This camera will fit smaller cavities than does the previous one (discussed further down this page), such as cavities used by Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, bluebirds, and other smaller-than-IBWO-or-PIWO cavity-nesting birds.
See much more on the Peeper Cam page as well as some images from Cuba (alas, not images of IBWOs).
In 2009 an EF2 tornado tore through the southern part of the White River National Wildlife Refuge. Several of us searched that area around Feb 1, 2011, for signs of IBWOs with no luck. The damage was impressive, as you can see in the photo to the right. In many places it was necessary to stay on the edge of the path of destruction because the downed trees made the tornado path impassable.
A September 2010 article in Smithsonian shows some previously unpublished photos by James Tanner of "Sonny Boy" - the young IBWO that was the only IBWO ever banded. Don't miss the Photo Gallery!
The Recovery Plan for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (4.7 MB PDF) is now officially published. It is a very thorough 155 page document that covers issues such as habitat, conservation, education, and much more.
Appendix B, US FWS statement on existing evidence for Ivory-billed Woodpecker occurrence in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas and elsewhere in the Southeastern U.S., was particularly interesting to me. Because of all the press given to the naysayers, I am frequently asked questions like, "So, was that bird really there?" For the official position of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the organization tasked with managing endangered species in the United States, I can now refer reporters and other interested parties to the official document.
Appendix B is three pages long, so I won't repeat it all here. I would encourage you to read it if you are interested in the official position on the "battle of the evidence." Here are a few telling excerpts:
"Our review of the presented arguments leads us to conclude that the alternative interpretations of Sibley et al. (2006) and Collinson (2007) fail to credibly support their assertion that the woodpecker in the Luneau video could reasonably be a Pileated Woodpecker."
"In conclusion, the FWS accepts the original Fitzpatrick et al. (2005) interpretation of the Luneau video and other evidence gathered during the last five years as the best information available to support the hypothesis that Ivory-billed Woodpecker has persisted into the 21st Century. On the basis of this conclusion, the FWS will continue to appropriately act on behalf of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended."
So, it's now official.
Peeper paper published - The paper that Brandon Noel and I co-authored detailing the wireless cavity-viewing camera that I modified for his use has been published in Vol. 81, No. 2 of the Journal of Field Ornithology. If you are interested in a PDF copy of the paper, just email me a request (david AT ibwo.org) and I will send you a copy.
Peeper Cam Background - Over the past few years I have been occasionally helping Brandon Noel, who is working on his PhD at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro under Dr. Jim Bednarz. In the picture at the right, you can see Brandon (right) and his brother Duane raising a wireless cavity-peeping camera to a Pileated Woodpecker (PIWO) nest cavity. Brandon is studying PIWOs over a several-year period in eastern Arkansas for his PhD project. Brandon and his field crew have monitored numerous nests and radio-tagged many birds to study their movements. He and his crew have worked extensively in both the White River and Cache River National Wildlife Refuges. They keep an eye out for IBWOs as well.
The nest cavity in the Water Tupelo (pictured at right) is 49' high, which makes getting a peeper-cam mounted on a wobbly 50' telescoping pole into a ~3.5" diameter cavity an extreme challenge. To make matters worse, the sun was almost directly above, so seeing the cavity from the ground was very difficult. The camera swayed about on the end of the pole and finally went into the cavity. There were two eggs in the cavity (the video taken by the wireless camera is recorded on a camcorder on the ground for later reference).