THe Ivory-billed woodpecker is extinct. But some day they have sighted them yet no one has been able to verify the sightings. It is time to face facts, sadly they are no more.

Over the decades, rumors that Ivory-billed woodpeckers were living covertly in Louisiana marshes have echoed like a bird call. It’s been nearly 80 years since the last verified Louisiana sighting of the elusive bird. It was last spotted in Louisiana on a piece of land in Madison Parish known as the Singer tract, owned by the Singer sewing machine company and harvested for timber. Since then, numerous people have claimed to have spotted the bird. In St. Tammany Parish, for instance, a reported sighting in 1999 sent six bird experts from around the world into the marshy Pearl River Management Area near Slidell for a two-week search that ultimately ended in failure. Most reported sightings have come from the Atchafalaya Basin swamp, but none have resulted in a verified report, said Robert Dobbs, a nongame ornithologist at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

A good looking bird that once roamed the south east one has not been verified for decades.

Described by Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library as a large woodpecker with a black body and white lines down its back (and a red crest on males), the bird was one of 23 species from the endangered species list that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared extinct this week. The declaration kicks off a 60-day comment period, after which the change in status will become official. The extinction declaration closes a chapter of Louisiana wildlife that has captured the attention of amateur bird watchers and expert ornithologists alike. Though the status change is largely a formality, cementing what many already feared was true, wildlife officials say it serves as a somber reminder of the urgency of habitat loss and its devastating consequences. “The ivory-bill and Louisiana are forever linked,” Dobbs said. “The loss of this bird is particularly painful because it reflects a much larger loss of our natural heritage — old-growth bottomland hardwood forest that supported an abundance of biodiversity. When the forests disappeared, so did the ivory-bill.”

Development has caused many problems for animals. As we get more people who want houses we move into the habitat cutting trees and filling marshes.

Ivory-billed woodpeckers require large forests filled with large trees for “nesting and roosting cavities.” They thrive in a territory where they can forage for their primary food source — wood-boring beetle larvae, Dobbs said. But by World War II, the bottomland hardwood forests in the southeastern U.S. were “essentially gone,” Dobbs said. The last verified sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker was in 1944 in the Singer Tract. Photos and audio recordings from the bird at the site are available through the Macaulay Library and the Louisiana Digital Library. Since then, official groups and amateur birders have combed the swamps of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida, to no avail. “The extensive surveys performed by highly-skilled biologists, which have yielded no evidence of the ivory-bill’s persistence, overwhelmingly suggests that the Ivory-billed woodpecker is extinct,” Dobbs said. 

Yet, in Louisiana some dispute this information maintaining that the bird has been seen.

John Dillon, president of the Louisiana Ornithological Society, an LSU-based group of bird lovers with varying levels of expertise, said the group is largely split between members who say they’ve seen the bird and others, like Dillon, who believe the sightings are unfounded. “I hope I’m wrong, but science requires strong evidence and there hasn’t been any since the 1940s,” Dillon said. The sightings over the last few decades are mostly “blurry photographs, a lot of assumptions and a lot of hope,” Dillon said, noting that he suspects some bird watchers have spotted the Pileated woodpecker, a bird that bears an uncanny resemblance to its ivory-billed relative. Nevertheless, the lack of concrete evidence hasn’t stopped the ivory-billed woodpecker from gaining near-mythical status, becoming a Louisiana Bigfoot of sorts. But its mythical status may downplay the severity of the situation, Dillon said: “It becomes laughable and that worries me.”

Declaring the Ivory-billed woodpecker extinct will hep other birds.

The change in status will allow the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reallocate money and resources to aid in the recovery of other threatened and endangered species in Louisiana. “Scientists want this bird to exist,” Dillon said. “The big picture here is that if you want to be a steward of conservation, use the extinction of all these as a reminder of what we need to protect and what we’re doing wrong.” Other Louisiana birds are listed on the endangered list, including the Whooping crane and the Black-capped Vireo. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which could add allocate about $16 million toward conservation efforts in Louisiana, was introduced to the U.S. House in April. 

It is a loss when we have a bird go extinct. We of the human race need to protect nature.

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker sighted but not verified