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The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FSW) declared the ivory-billed woodpecker to be extinct a year ago. A move which then proved to be a bit premature. Now, a team of researchers have brought a glimmer of hope by announcing the bird to be alive and pecking in the forests of Louisiana.
It took a team of researchers three years to find the woodpecker since its last widely accepted sighting in 1944. To capture the bird on camera, the scientists used a drone together with trail cameras to capture images on a time-lapse. Once the species was quite common in the Louisiana-region but due to habitat loss and overhunting, its population diminished drastically.
Steve Latta himself, the leader of the team behind the discovery, was thrilled to observe the birds fly right in front of him and he said to The Guardian:
“It flew up at an angle, and I watched it for about six to eight seconds, which was fairly long for an ivory-billed woodpecker. I was surprised. You realize you’ve seen something special that very few people had the opportunity to see.”
“No one has held a camera and got a picture of one in years because it’s a scarce bird in tough swampy habitat and they don’t want people close to them because they’ve been shot at for 150 years,” said Geoffrey Hill, who took part in another trip to find the bird in Florida back in 2005. “They have better eyes than we do, they are high in the trees and actively flee people. They aren’t great thinkers, but they have developed a pretty simple strategy to avoid people.”
Whether this discovery means that the species is bouncing back or whether or not it’s able to reproduce in significant numbers is left to see, but finding the woodpecker is very encouraging.