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Sightings and Auditory Encounters November 2009-January 2010

East-Central Louisiana Sightings and Auditory Encounters

Our search effort was inspired by what seemed to be a credible report from a resident of rural East-Central Louisiana. Frank Wiley, a Louisiana native, has collected additional reports from other locals. While we recognize the risk in crediting such reports, we have no reason to question the sincerity of the people involved, and several of them are detailed and have the ring of truth. Some people in this part of Louisiana continue to use archaic common names for both Ivory-billed and Pileated Woodpeckers, and the distinction that certain locals make between these species lends added credibility to their reports.

During almost weekly visits to the area, Frank Wiley has had multiple sightings, one of which involved three birds. In two instances, he obtained photographs in conjunction with the sightings, but both involved birds in flight at some distance. The photographs are suggestive but do not show definitive field marks. We see no value in making them public at this time, although they may be included in a future, comprehensive report. In addition, Wiley has heard suggestive knocks and kent calls on numerous occasions, and has recorded a number of the knocks.

On November 25, Wiley and I were staking out a feeding tree when a large woodpecker flew into the top of nearby pecan. The bird was obscured by foliage but was moving around in the canopy as I tried to observe it. Wiley moved and flushed the bird, and I got a brief glimpse as it fled, but only enough to notice white on the wings that appeared to be too extensive for a Pileated. What was perhaps more significant about this sighting is that we both heard loud, rapid, duck-like wing beats, at a distance of approximately seventy-five feet. On the preceding morning, we heard but did not record an extended series of calls, lasting approximately ten seconds, and coming from the general vicinity of the November 25 sighting. These calls were unlike others that have been recorded by contemporary searchers and resembled those documented by Tanner and Allen at 03:14 on the Singer Tract recordings, available at:

http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/6784

Between January 24-26, 2010, Bill Benish, Ross Everett, and Frank Wiley had sightings. Everett, McCaslin and I heard possible kents on the morning of January 25, and shortly after noon on that day, all six participants had an extended auditory encounter that was recorded in part by Wiley, Benish, and me on separate recording devices; a couple of minutes had elapsed before team members were able to activate their recorders. All team members heard multiple kents and double knocks during this incident. We believe that two birds responded to the banging of a tin roof on a deer stand in the vicinity. Just before sunset on January 26, Benish heard and recorded a double knock. In addition, Mark Gahler’s remote recording devices captured apparent kent calls on January 25th and 26th. Selections from the recordings of the extended January 25th encounter, the calls captured on the remote device, and Bill Benish’s double knock, along with commentary and sonograms are will be uploaded to this new site in the near future.

Field notes were made at the time of or shortly after most of these sightings and auditory encounters and will be made available to the proper authorities should conclusive documentation be obtained.

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