Just got a letter from the Nature Conservancy. A species thought to be extinct for 50 years is back. Part of the letter:
Ivory-billed woodpeckers are big birds (three-foot wing spans!) that need a lot of space to survive. Best estimates are that one pair of ivory-bills needs about six square miles of forest to survive - that's 36 times as much territory as the pileated woodpecker (the bird it most closely resembles).
The bird's fate was all but sealed when millions of acres of once-pristine Southern forest were cleared to satisfy the post-Civil War building market. The ivory-bill was also popular among collectors for museums and private collections. The equation was simple - and grim. As its habitat disappeared, so did the ivory-bill.
One of the last people to see the bird alive in the United States was Richard Pough, who in 1943 visited Louisiana's Singer Tract, the ivory-bill's last known address, and found only a single female, mateless in a roost tree.
The image of the doomed bird must have loomed large in Pough's mind when he helped to found The Nature Conservancy in 1951. And it's no accident that the Conservancy would become, more than half a century later, one of the key players in the ivory-bill's rediscovery.
Today The Nature Conservancy, along with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is part of the Big Woods Conservation Partnership - a group of public and private organizations dedicated to protecting the habitat the ivory-billed woodpecker needs to survive.
... The Nature Conservancy had already conserved 120,000 acres of the Big Woods before we knew the bird was there, and our goal is working to conserve an additional 200,000 acres of forest habitat and rivers there over the next ten years.
... In fact, the Big Woods is vitally important for the survival of numerous endangered species, 108 species of native fish and more than 265 species of birds. It's also a treasured area for hunters and fishermen, who have played a vital role in conserving wildlife habitat here for generations.
If you're interested in helping to support this extremely effective organization, check out their website at http://www.nature.org. Or here for more about the Ivory-bill.