"...the ornithologists still had serious doubts. Sutton finally put it directly: 'Mr. Spencer, you're sure the bird you're telling us about isn't the big pileated woodpecker?'

"Spencer exploded. 'Man alive! These birds I'm tellin' you all about is kints!' he shouted in their faces. 'Why, the pileated woodpecker's just a little bird about as big as that.' He held his fingers a few inches apart. 'A kint's as big as that!' he said, holding his arms wide... 'Why, man, I've known kints all my life. My pappy showed 'em to me when I was just a kid. I see 'em every fall when I go deer huntin' down aroun' my place on the Tinsaw. They're big birds, I tell you, big and black and white; and they fly through the woods like pintail ducks!'

"After Spencer's outburst, the members of the team were all believers -- not just because of his vehemence, but because his description was so accurate. Ivory-bills do not have the typical bounding flight of the pileated woodpecker. They generally fly away high and straight, with stiff flight feathers, looking very much like a pintail, and their call is a distinctive nasal kent, kent, kent -- very similar to the local name Spencer used, kint. Sutton and the others couldn't wait to get to the bayou and start searching.

"As it turned out, that was not an easy proposition..." --Gallagher, Tim. The Grail Bird: Hot on the Trail of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, pp. 10-11: "Of People and Peckerwoods."

Monday, August 3, 2015


I have not been able to get back into the field since the July 3 survey of Big Swamp.  July was brutally hot, though temperatures moderated somewhat over the past few days; the humidity has decreased, making early mornings pleasant again.  I walked a short (3 miles) nature trail with my brother Brian and our good friend Curtis Holland, Jr., two days ago, just to get out of civilization for a little while.  It was good to hear the wind in the pines, and to be in the woods at dawn again.

There is currently no news regarding the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, at least that I am aware of.

I hope to resume the search during the month of August; but due to work and family duties, I suspect I will be lucky to get more than a day in the field.  I have no specific plans.  The heat is also a factor, and the leaf-out makes spotting fleeting birds in the forest canopy an enormous challenge.  Of course, Ivorybills are (by most accounts) relatively quiet this time of year, too, so stalking a silent bird in dense forest in searing heat becomes a task of near herculean proportions.  

I wanted to take a moment to thank visitors to this blog from outside the United States.  It is always a pleasure to see hits from elsewhere, and in particular France, China, Ukraine, Poland, and beautiful Russia.  Thank you for visiting, and please feel free to comment, if you wish.

For those who missed it, Mark at Project Coyote updated their site last month.  You can keep track of their ongoing efforts at www.projectcoyoteibwo.com.  There is much to be learned there, even in the comments sections.

An early painting by John James Audubon of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.