"...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."

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Kints in Print

My brother and I are honored to have our story in the Summer 2017 issue of Mississippi Wildlife, the annual magazine of the Mississippi Wildlife Federation.  The article, "Adventures in Old Ivorybill Country," provides a short narrative of the Ivorybill, its relationship with mankind, and a very brief account of our own experiences in the Pascagoula River Basin, with Brian's photographs offering glimpses of the magnificent Swamp.  My wife Susanne, and my sister-in-law Lindsey, were kind enough to proofread the article before submission, for which Brian and I are grateful.

It is only the first week of August, but the shadows of early morning and late afternoon hint of September; and I am restless.  Norman MacLean wrote, "I am haunted by waters."  I am, too; though mine are less noisy, are deeper and darker, and are less respectful of boundaries.

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