Feeds

Twitchers in a flap over elusive pecker

'Very rare' bird actually extinct all along?

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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). ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.