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29 April 2005 @ 01:09 pm
though much is lost, much yet abides  
It's remarkable how much hearing about the ivory billed woodpecker cheered me. The ivorybill was the first time I understood the concept that animals could go away forever. I remember looking through my dad's birding guides when I was very young, and seeing it and the sad little history, the final sighting in 1944.

Now to only hope that it's not the last of them. Given that the conditions for the ivory bill have been improving in that location, with forest regrowing, it seems more likely to be a bold young bird out investigating new territories than a last survivor, but it's not impossible to imagine it as a solitary male, exploring the forests in a futile search for a mate.
(Deleted comment)
Lauratavella on April 29th, 2005 08:35 pm (UTC)
Around 15-20 years, they think; that's in line with the other big woodpeckers and what observations they have. Certainly not 60 years, and in fact this population must have been hiding for even longer than that -- the ivory-bill was thought to have been lost from Arkansas even before it was thought to be extinct entirely, the last confirmed sightings were all in Louisiana and before that, Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. I don't think it's been sighted in Arkansas since the beginning of the 20th century, maybe before. I propose renaming them from the Lord God! bird to the You Sneaky Bastard! bird.
Loligololigo on April 29th, 2005 09:39 pm (UTC)
it's not impossible to imagine it as a solitary male, exploring the forests in a futile search for a mate.

Augh! No! You harsh my mellow! (Also v. v. excited about the woodpeckers.)
Lauratavella on April 30th, 2005 12:06 am (UTC)
I wouldn't worry too much! Considering that back in 1891, the ivorybill was thought to have disappeared entirely from the interior and survive entirely only in South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, which means that this population has been hiding out and breeding successfully for over a *century*; and considering that the area has been coming back rather than being further logged, it seems far more likely that he's the herald of an expanding population. It would be beyond odd for them to be so successfully shy for a century and the very last one manages to be seen.