A friend of mine spent a few months in the back country some years back, searching for evidence that a population of  ivory -billed woodpeckers, thought to be extinct for decades, is in fact hanging on by a thread in the swamps and forests of the southeastern United States. Sadly, his trip proved fruitless. But as any good amateur cryptozoologist will remind skeptics, “absence of proof is not proof of absence,” despite whatever Florida may have to say on the matter.In fact, if you’ll recall, the last time we listened to Florida about anything, it turned into eight years of national shame, foreign war and crippling debt. As far as I’m concerned, Florida’s credibility is shot.

Meanwhile, a recent study by University of Georgia researchers postulated that a small group of ivory bills could have been maintained by just five breeding pairs of the birds. It’s not a lot to place your bets on, but any ray of hope that this by all accounts incredibly impressive avian specimen hasn’t given up the ghost is cause for celebration. So far, multiple forays in search of the birds have all come up empty handed as regards clear photographic or DNA evidence of surviving ivory-bills, but research teams are looking for a population that may be as small as a few dozen specimens in hundreds of thousands of acres of marsh and flooded timberland – the fact that nothing has been turned up is discouraging, but by no means definitive. And as long as sightings persist, there’s reason to hope that this bird, that just happens to count the world’s most famous woodpecker among it’s lineage, is very down, but not yet out. No matter what Florida thinks about it.

Advertisements