This is amazing – I could read about this stuff all day long. The ivory-billed woodpecker has been believed to be extinct since the 1940’s, when the last recorded sighting took place in a Louisiana forest. The birds are huge, with a 30-inch wingspan, and are nearly 20 inches tall. It’s no surprise then, that they need a significant amount of space to thrive, so thanks to logging, hunting, and surprisingly enough forest fire supression, (they need burned out trees in order to find their food – beetle larvae,) their numbers declined steadily. By 1938, roughly 22 remained and no nests were ever found again. It appeared this great, exotic bird was gone for good.
There were a few sightings of similar birds since then, smaller versions with different colorations called pilated woodpeckers. But in 1999, a student claimed to have been out in a remote Louisiana bayou where he saw a pair for a full fifteen minues. Now, the bird’s survival be confirmed as a recently released video shows the giant bird, whitish-yellow beak, red plumage, and all. Fantastic.