Cornell Lab of Ornithology researcher Russ Charif will begin presenting the new audio evidence at 10:30 a.m. PST Aug. 24 in Lotte Lehmann Hall at the University of California-Santa Barbara (UCSB). Lab members Ron Rohrbaugh and Ken Rosenberg and Director John Fitzpatrick will also make presentations.
One recording suggests the presence of at least two birds: a signature double rap that sounds like an ivory-billed woodpecker drumming on a tree from a distance followed by a closer double rap. This drumming behavior is typical of many large woodpeckers closely related with the ivory-bill. Other recordings include sounds that resemble the ivory-billed woodpecker's distinctively nasal "kent" calls. The sounds were discovered by Cornell audio experts combing through 17,000 hours of audio files from autonomous recording units installed in the Arkansas woods and swamplands.
The ivory-billed woodpecker was thought extinct for some 60 years until bird experts, including Tim Gallagher, an editor and birder from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, claimed to have spotted it in Arkansas' Big Woods in February 2004.
In April 2005, the online version of Science magazine published a study led by Fitzpatrick, in a partnership involving the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Nature Conservancy and other researchers. As direct evidence, the paper contained a Web link to a brief, blurry but carefully analyzed video clip of the woodpecker. Since then, several researchers, including ornithologists Richard Prum of Yale University, Mark Robbins of the University of Kansas and Jerome Jackson, a zoologist from Florida Gulf Coast University -- publicly declared the evidence unconvincing and disputed it in an article submitted to the Public
Contact: Blaine Friedlander
Cornell University News Service