Ivory-billed Woodpecker search results
Participants included Jon Andrew, recovery team leader from USFWS; Audubon Arkansas - Dr. Dan Scheiman, bird conservation director for Audubon Arkansas; Dennis Widner of Cache River National Wildlife Refuge; and various folks from Cornell: Ken Rosenberg, co-chair of the recovery team's biology working group; Ron Rohrbaugh, director of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker research project; Martjan Lammertink, project scientist for the research project; and Russ Charif, acoustics engineer for the research project.
"The situation hasn't changed from a year ago," according to Rosenberg. The search season did not yield additional confirmation in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. "We're pretty sure there is not a resident pair in Bayou De View. We've pretty thoroughly searched that area."
Rohrbaugh said the search team is somewhat disappointed; however, "we have had enough tantalizing sounds that we still have a lot of hope that there might be a pair in White River. Just because we put in two field seasons [and don't have unquestionable proof] doesn't mean the bird isn't there or that we should've found it by now."
The season did yield four brief, possible sightings, Lammertink said. One volunteer searcher and three birders on day permits in Bayou De View described sightings with only one diagnostic field mark: the white trailing edge on the wings.
Some of the full-time searchers (of which there were more than 20) heard double-raps and kent calls and recorded the sounds, Lammertink said. Those recordings from Bayou De View and White River NWR still are being analyzed.
The search will resume next fall in Arkansas with more expert volunteers, Rohrbaugh said. That effort also will include more time-lapse cameras to monitor potential cavities and feeding sites.
Lammertink clarified that the search covered 33,000 acres this year, for a total of 72,000 acres searched during the two seasons. That figure represents only 13 percent of the available habitat in the Big Woods, he said: "There could be really good habitat in that unsearched area."
Efforts won't be limitd to Arkansas, Rohrbaugh added. Cornell's IBWO staff will work with state biologists in Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi and a few other locations to share their search methodology.
Andrews said the recovery team continues to receive reports from Alabama, Florida, Missouri and Tennessee. "They're in likely places by credible observers," he said.
Now, birders who want to freely explore Cache River can do so, Widner said. "There's no need any longer for limited public use," he said. As of today, the refuge opened the managed access area (which required day-use permits) and removed restrictions on Bayou De View.