Project Principalis, co-founded (as Project Coyote) by the late Frank Wiley and me (Mark Michaels) in 2009, has partnered with the National Aviary in the search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker since 2019. A directory of the most important recent pages on the Aviary’s site, including details of some of the sightings in recent years is here. You can read a preprint of our results 2019-2021 at bioRxiv.

This blog has been featured in two recent books:

Guy Luneau’s, The Ivory-billed Woodpecker: Taunting Extinction: Survival in the Modern Era includes his elegant analysis of one of the images from 2009.

Title notwithstanding, I think J. Christopher Haney’s Woody’s Last Laugh: How the Extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker Fools Us into Making 53 Thinking Errors is the most important book on the ivorybill since Tanner, at least; it’s an absolute must for anyone regardless of where they stand on the controversy. It’s an honor to have been so frequently referenced.

I have restored many older posts, mostly pertaining to the IBWO’s natural history and my hypotheses about foraging sign, habitat, and behavior. Some of these are summarized and updated on the Aviary site as well. In addition, this blog provides background information on the history of Project Coyote/Principalis since its inception.

My thinking on many of the ivorybill continues to evolve, and I want to share as much of the process as possible, including some of the blind alleys I’ve followed, both for historical purposes and to inform other searchers. Older material posted here does not necessarily reflect the current state of my understanding. The evidence thus far supports some of my ideas and not others. Many of our observations are consistent with Tanner’s descriptions, at least in terms of how ivorybills seem to attack dying hardwoods, starting with the outer limbs, as decline and decay progress.

We would like to thank our former Project Coyote colleague, Matt Courtman, for his 2017 audio recordings and for reaching out to bring the National Aviary into the Project.

Field efforts are ongoing.

Mark A. Michaels


markprojectcoyoteIBWO @ gmail.com