Woodpecker controversy hits headlines

A recent article published in BMC Biology explains how Dr J Martin Collinson and colleagues at Aberdeen University do not believe reports on the sightings of the ivory-billed woodpecker, believed extinct, in an Arkansas swamp in 2004. Collinson may doubt the existence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker but media coverage of his article on the bird has really taken off.


Collinson’s study has been picked up by news services around the world and has received extensive coverage in America where the original video footage had been filmed. Among the outlets who have run the story have been, BBC News, Reuters, Forbes, The Washington Post, Boston Herald, The Telegraph, ABC, Fox and CBS.


The article questions video footage heralded as proof of a re-emergence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas, around 50 years after the last sighting. Aberdeen-based Collinson draws the conclusion that the bird in the footage is likely to be the Pileated Woodpecker, which bears a striking resemblance to its rare cousin when in escape flight.


Video analysis of the escape flight of Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus: does the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Campephilus principalis persist in continental North America?
J Martin Collinson
BMC Biology 2007, 5:8 (15 March 2007)

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