Rare Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Now Spotted in Florida Swamp

SEPTEMBER 27, 2006 - Posted at 7:20 a.m. CDT

PENSACOLA, FL - Researchers say they have seen and heard the ivory-billed woodpecker in swamps in Florida.  The bird was thought to be extinct until researchers in Arkansas in 2004 documented the bird in the Big Woods area of east Arkansas.

The Auburn University ornithologists, who published their findings in Canada's Avian Conservation and Ecology journal online, failed to capture a picture of the large woodpecker with the white bill that makes a distinct double-rapping sound.

The last confirmed ivory-bill sighting was in 1944.

Auburn ornithologist Geoffrey Hill headed the search in northwest Florida.  He says his team plans to return sometime around November with better equipment to try to get the photographs.

Connie Bruce, a spokeswoman for Cornell University's ivory-billed woodpecker project, ( http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory ) says the Florida sighting doesn't change the findings from Arkansas.  She says searches will be taking place throughout the Southeast.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)