Feeds

Twitchers in a flap over elusive pecker

'Very rare' bird actually extinct all along?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

It was with great fanfare last summer that the US Fish and Wildlife service trumpeted the rediscovery of an apparently 'extinct' species: the ivory-billed woodpecker. Until a Cornell team reported the sighting in a Arkansas swamp, the iconic bird had not been spotted for more than 60 years.

The revelation was the hottest news to hit the bird watching community in years, and the administration moved quickly to appoint a dedicated 'recovery team'. They threw $10m at the tenuous grip on existence the species happily seemed to retain.

But now, almost a year on with no further sightings, others are casting aspersions on the original Science identification.

Florida ornithologist and woodpecker expert Jerome Jackson has published criticisms in the journal The Auk, saying the blurry video the Cornell researchers took is inconclusive. He says it could just as easily show the related pileated woodpecker.

Despite the doubts, President Bush recently requested a further $2.1m to bolster the hunt.

If confirmed, woodpecker could be a tourism bonanza for the local economy, a fact not lost on the organisers of the recent "Call of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Celebration" in the small town of Brinkley. The February event offered "speakers and vendors with items you might be interested in such as T-shirts, field glasses, books, paintings, posters, prints and more."

Sadly for the Arkansas Chambers of Commerce, it seems this 'Lazarus' bird may have been an ex-pecker all along. A pessimistic Jackson told New Scientist: "They might not be visible on two or three trips or 50 hours of observation, but now we're talking about thousands of hours by the Cornell people alone. In my opinion, we should have had something by now."

Judge the video for yourself here (.mov file). ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.