Scientists Present Audio of Ivory-Billed Woodpecker to Public

AUGUST 24, 2005 - Posted at 2:40 p.m. CDT

SANTA BARBARA, CA - Scientists today publicly presented recordings purportedly by the ivory-billed woodpecker, once thought to be extinct until a bird expert spotted it in the swamps of southeast Arkansas last year.

The woodpecker sighting sparked controversy earlier this year after researchers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology published a paper that contained a grainy video clip of the striking bird.  The bird, with its three-foot wingspan and distinctive black-and-white markings, reportedly was rediscovered in the Big Woods area of eastern Arkansas.

Critics challenged the bird's existence, saying the blurry videotape of a bird in flight wasn't enough evidence.  Many skeptics were won over after the Cornell researchers sent doubters several recordings of sounds that suggested the bird's existence.

The Cornell ornithologists made 18,000 hours of recordings.

Today marks the first time the audio was publicly played.  It was heard during the American Ornithologists' Union meeting in Santa Barbara.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)