Rosen also touches on a particularly thorny conservation case, that of the ivorybill
woodpecker as a symbol of the loss of wilderness, and whether or not it still persists in Southern swamps.
The next evidence of the ivorybill
's existence, he predicts, will be produced by "a rural resident who may have little experience or even interest in bird watching." The birding world should prepare to take heed.
Nice Guys Finish Last IVORYBILL
HUNTERS: The Search for Proof in a Flooded Wilderness GEOFFREY E.
hunters; the search for proof in a flooded wilderness.
27, as Sparling paddled ahead, a large black-and-white woodpecker flew across the bayou less than 70 feet in front of Gallagher and Harrison, who simultaneously cried out: "Ivorybill
!" Minutes later, after the bird had disappeared into the forest, Gallagher and Harrison sat down to sketch independently what each had seen.
Upset upon learning in 1995 that the ivorybill
woodpecker had gone extinct after being reduced to the few remaining primeval swamps of Louisiana, Florida and South Carolina, Wilson laments what we are doing to the landscape.
To be in this wetland, says John McPhee, is "to float among trees under silently flying blue herons, to see the pileated woodpecker, to hope to see an ivorybill
, to hear the prothonotary warbler." In this area, whose mellifluous name derives from the Choctaw word for "long river," you might also eye an alligator, spot a giant catfish, or catch a glimpse of a web-footed rodent called a nutria.
Then came the reply, ricocheting through the forest: the haunting sound of an ivorybill
-- a tinny toot, single and double notes intertwined, like a child's toy horn.