Videos show purported ivory-billed woodpeckers as US moves toward extinction decision

Videos show purported ivory-billed woodpeckers as US moves toward extinction decision

Researchers uploaded new video and photos of ivory-billed woodpeckers flying in a Louisiana forest on Thursday, as government officials indicated they will decide if the species are extinct by the end of the year.

The blurry drone and trail camera photographs suggest the big woodpecker may still live in Louisiana 80 years after the last confirmed sighting.

Experts say it supports their survival. They urged the government to scrap the Lord God Bird idea, named after viewers’ exclamation upon seeing one.

A scientist said portions of the footage clearly shows another woodpecker that many amateurs mistake for the ivory-billed, dismissing the new findings as inconclusive.A crew that spent over a decade searching for woodpeckers at a secret spot published the peer-reviewed research in Ecology and Evolution.

Drone footage from October reveals a pair of ivory-billed woodpeckers with black-and-white wings, according to researchers.

“The last time a pair of birds was photographed would have been in the 1930s, so it’s really extraordinary on that level,” said Mark Michaels with Project Principalis, which sponsored the work and shared it with federal wildlife officials.

Michaels and lead study author Steven Latta with the independent National Aviary in Pittsburgh said most of the search crew saw or heard the woodpeckers. They also recorded their sounds.

With a 30-inch (76-centimeter) wingspan and a bulb bicycle horn cry, an ivory-billed woodpecker is impossible to miss. The bird prefers deep forests that are hard to travel. The last confirmed sighting was in 1944 in several of those places.

Sightings span decades. In 2021, government officials declared there was “no objective evidence” the bird was still alive.

After Project Principalis announced early data last year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delayed the extinction proclamation to take additional public comment.

Federal officials want expert-approved photos and recordings. “We receive information on any species at any time,” said wildlife service spokesman Christine Schuldheisz.

Co-authors include a wildlife service employee. The agency disclaimed that the research represents its views.

Searches cost millions.

Cornell University Professor John Fitzpatrick, who led a decades-long search in Arkansas, said the latest videos and images and past sightings are enough to drop the extinction claim.

He said the region they are working in is likely to support ivory-billed.

The recordings show the pileated woodpecker, not the ivory-billed, according to Naval Research Laboratory scientist Michael Collins. Collins has published many ivory-billed woodpecker papers and claims to have observed them last decade in the Pearl River area along the Louisiana-Mississippi border.

Collins claimed the latest drone video shows two birds with white wings due to light glare.

Collins claimed pileated woodpeckers had all the flight qualities. “Pileated woodpecker in this video.”

Auburn University’s Geoffrey Hill called Thursday’s findings “compelling evidence” that ivory-billed woodpeckers survive. Hill said it would not settle the argument.

“People decided. “Unless they get smacked in the face with a dead bird or see it on an IMAX movie, they won’t change their minds,” he said.