Observers in eastern Arkansas have reported at least eight independent sightings of a bird that appears to be an ivory-billed woodpecker, a species widely thought to be extinct. A video clip of one bird, though blurry, shows key features, including the size and markings, indicating that the bird is indeed an ivory-billed woodpecker, according to John W. Fitzpatrick of Cornell University and coauthors of a paper released online today by Science.
One of the worlds largest woodpeckers, the ivory-billed woodpecker is one of six North American bird species suspected or known to have become extinct since 1880. The bird was uncommon but widespread across lowland forests of the southeastern United States until logging decimated the forests between 1880 and the 1940s.
The last conclusive sighting of an ivory-billed woodpecker in continental North America occurred in 1944, although anecdotal reports have continued to this day. Reports from the 1980s of a subspecies of ivory-billed woodpecker in Cuba are widely accepted as valid, though efforts to confirm the continued existence of this population have failed.
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