Feeds

Twitchers in a flap over elusive pecker

'Very rare' bird actually extinct all along?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.