Monday, 19 March 2007

Sometimes bad news….

This morning’s posting was a hopeful look at biodiversity so I am a little annoyed at having to post on an opposite story. In 2004 fleeting video footage caught a glimpse of ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) in an Arkansas swamp, for the first time since 1944. Birdwatchers and conservationists were elated by the news that the long-thought extinct bird is alive in North America, however recently, the woodpecker's existence has been questioned again.

Extensive searches have failed to find any more evidence of the animal’s existence and Dr. Martin Collinson of Aberdeen University has re-analysed the poor quality video. He has suggested that the mysterious bird may actually be a pileated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) in flight. He cites the wing markings and the rate at which the creature flapped its wings as being more comparable to a pileated woodpecker than an ivory-billed woodpecker.

The Aberdeen researcher also argues that the missing bird's large size and colourful plumage (it is a dramatically coloured black and white bird with a red head) would surely have been spotted by now in the many follow-up surveys.

The 2004 video ignited hope that other extinct birds might be clinging to survival in isolated places and some still believe there is the lost bird will reappear. I hope they are right.

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