For the Birds: Big news week for the birds

Photo by Chris Bosak Yellow-rumped Warbler in Selleck’s Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2014.

Note: This column was originally published in newspapers on Oct. 4.

There was a lot of environmental and bird-related news to come out of Washington this past week.

In case you missed it, the big news was that U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials declared the ivory-billed woodpecker extinct. The “Lord God Bird’s” removal from the endangered species list is surprising only because officials are reluctant to declare species extinct. It’s such a powerful word that carries with it such finality it’s a tough tag to put on something.

The dreaded label was also placed on 22 other species of wildlife, including eight freshwater mussels. Sadly, but not surprisingly, 11 species from Hawaii and the Pacific Islands have been declared extinct. That includes many birds.

Continue reading

David Allen Sibley talks about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

In 2005, a bird sighting in Arkansas caused major waves in the birding world. It pitted experts against experts and beginners against beginners. The potential sighting was of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a large woodpecker long believed to be extinct. The sighting came along with a rough video, but not a clear enough one to answer any questions definitively. In fact, the video only separated the sides even more.

One of the skeptical experts was David Allen Sibley, who visited The Hour offices last month and I couldn’t resist asking his thoughts on the subject. The alleged sighting came in 2005, but the debate still rages on. Here are Sibley’s thoughts on the matter.