Leaders of the research team looking into sightings of the rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker, have reported six visual "possible encounters" in the Arkansas region, by members of the research team, birders, hunters, and refuge employees. The team of ornithologically-adept researchers is exploring the huge swamps where the rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker was ”rediscovered” last year. These encounters keep the team highly motivated and hopeful they show they are on the right track to conclusively proving the birds’ presence.
These sightings are called "possible encounters" by the research team. They do not rise to the level of confirmed and verified sightings. Search team leaders stress that this is not new, conclusive confirmation of the bird, but they are encouraged by this flurry of both video and audio activity in several key areas.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker, until it was recorded and photographed last fall, had not been seen since approximately 1945. The large, elusive woodpecker was thought to be extinct. Its rediscovery last year, however, has breathed new life into the local economy and excited birdwatchers worldwide.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) is the third largest woodpecker in the world, and the largest woodpecker north of Mexico. At 18 to 20 inches tall, it has a wingspan of 30 to 31 inches and weighs 16 to 20 ounces. The bird has a jet black body with large white patches on the wings. A white stripe extends from below each yellow-colored eye, down the sides of the neck and onto the sides of its back. When the wings are folded, it appears that there is a large "shield" of white on the lower back of an ivory-bill. The males have a brilliant red color at the back of their crests, which curves back, whereas the females have a black crest that curves forward.