Ivory-billed woodpecker skeptics recant, gush about sound recordings

“It’s all moot at this point; the bird’s here.” So says Mark B. Robbins, one of the trio of skeptical scientists who had questioned the rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker after the species had long been assumed extinct. What changed their minds? The bird’s call. They had been skeptical of the short, grainy video that received so much publicity when the bird’s reemergence was announced, but two of the scientists recently had a chance to listen to sound recordings of the woodpecker’s call. “We were absolutely stunned,” they said of the “astounding” recordings that “provide clear and convincing evidence” that the bird is back. They have cancelled plans to publish a paper in the journal Science calling the bird’s comeback into doubt. “We sent them the sounds,” said John Fitzpatrick, one of the scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology who originally announced the woodpecker’s return. “I wish we’d done that earlier.”