Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Florida Records of Ivory-billed Woodpecker Rejected

Meeting at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville on January 27, 2007, members of the Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee (FOSRC) voted 0-7 to NOT ACCEPT reports of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker along the lower Choctawhatchee River, 2005-2006.

The relevant portions of the FOSRC’s April 2007 report reads as follows:
RC 06-610. Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis. 21 May 2005- 26 April 2006. Choctawhatchee River, Washington/Bay/Walton cos. A population of unknown size has been reported by a team from Auburn University from the lower Choctawhatchee River. There have been a few sightings but no photographs, some interesting recordings of “kent” calls and of double rap drums, and photographs taken of cavities and bark scaling. These observations were made on the heels of the much-publicized “rediscovery” of the species in Arkansas (Fitzpatrick et al 2005). The species had not been documented to occur since 1944. The video documentation of the bird(s) from Arkansas, however, has been debated by many, although the record was accepted by the Arkansas Bird Records Committee. Our Committee felt that given the controversy of the Arkansas evidence, the species is best considered still extinct. Therefore only evidence that undoubtedly showed a living bird would be considered sufficient to accept a report.

The last specimen taken in Florida was in 1925; there have been numerous sight reports of varying credibility since, and one record of a feather found in a nest cavity in 1968 that was identified as an Ivory-billed Woodpecker inner secondary by Alexander Wetmore.

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