Repost with Addendum: Ivory-billed Woodpecker Sightings and Evidence 1944-2003: The Partially Hidden History

I’m reposting an entry from February 2015 with some new commentary as prologue. I recently received a Google alert about a new paper on statistical approaches to extinction relying on sight records. According to the paper, which has not yet been peer reviewed: We have shown that the rate of sightings is the strongest indicator […]

Singer Tract Area Ivorybills in 1948

Just over a year ago, I quoted at length from a 1949 letter to Tanner from Arthur MacMurray (a former student).  I’m reposting that transcript below and have some additional commentary. Eckelberry’s famous “last” John’s Bayou sighting in April 1944 has become a legend, even though Peterson, writing in 1948, had the lone female remaining […]

Bark: An Exegesis

Introduction: According to Tanner, scaling bark was the Ivory-billed Woodpecker’s primary foraging strategy during breeding season in Louisiana. Tanner wrote that the ivorybill is “capable of easily scaling away heavy bark that other woodpeckers could not loosen.” (Tanner 1942). All woodpeckers in genus Campephilus have specific anatomical characteristics that enable them to forage in this […]

Insights, Ants, and Old Growth: a Nuanced View of the Ivorybill’s Decline and Possible Survival

I’ve just finished reading Tanner’s dissertation and have gained some new insights into topics that have been discussed in a number of earlier posts. Conventional wisdom, following Tanner, holds that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker’s decline and possible extinction were caused by habitat loss, specifically the logging of old growth forests during the 19th and early 20th […]

Two More Rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker Images

These two photographs, taken by Tanner in 1938 and published in his dissertation, have not been otherwise widely disseminated or (to the best of my knowledge) reprinted elsewhere. Each is interesting in its own right, and not just because they add to the small body of indisputable ivorybill imagery; the first shows the behavior of […]

Rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker Images

    My visits to Cornell’s Kroch Library, where the Rare and Manuscript Collections are housed, have been very productive. In addition to the last letter to Tanner pertaining to the Singer Tract ivorybills quoted at length here, I’ve come across several little known ivorybill images, some better quality reproductions of the plates in Tanner, […]