Ivory-billed woodpecker, thought to be extinct, turns up in Louisiana

Researchers with the National Aviary in Pittsburgh report that they filmed an ivory-billed woodpecker in Louisiana. The "iconic" species was thought to be extinct, reports Penn Live, and declared such just two years ago.

They also reportedly used drones in 2019 to scan the treetops for the birds and their techniques reportedly returned "numerous images" of the woodpeckers.

"You have very scarce birds that tend to be very high up in the canopy in dense forests and they're very hard to document, and that is a great achievement that we've been able to get the imagery," one of the co-authors of the study, Mark Michaels, reportedly said.

Per the report, the fact that the photos were not high quality because of the distances they were being taken from, the group has faced some scrutiny.

Their paper is titled Multiple lines of evidence suggest the persistence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) in Louisiana and was published in Ecology and Evolution.

The history of the decline of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is long and complex, but the status of the species since 1944, when the last widely accepted sighting in continental North America occurred, is particularly controversial. Reports of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers have continued, but none has reached the threshold of quality for general acceptance by ornithologists or the birdwatching public. In 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opened for public comment a proposal to declare the species extinct. Here, we present evidence suggesting the presence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker at our study site, based on a variety of data collected over a 10-year search period, 2012–2022. These data are drawn from visual observations, ~70,000 h of recordings by 80–100 acoustic recording units, ~472,550 camera-hours by as many as 34 trail cameras, and ~1089 h of video drawn from ~3265 drone flights. Using multiple lines of evidence, the data suggest intermittent but repeated presence of multiple individual birds with field marks and behaviors consistent with those of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. Data indicate repeated reuse of foraging sites and core habitat. Our findings, and the inferences drawn from them, suggest that not all is lost for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and that it is clearly premature for the species to be declared extinct.

These photos from the paper show what they mean by "not high quality", but the silhouettes (posed next to old photos) are clear enough: