Woodpecker thought extinct rediscovered; birders weep like babies

It was spotted several times — once even filmed — over the past year and a half. Now, ornithologists writing in the journal Science have officially confirmed the existence of at least one ivory-billed woodpecker, a miraculously tangible token of a species long thought extinct. The discovery — referred to variously as “a spiritual experience,” “thrilling beyond words,” and “kind of like finding Elvis” — was enough to bring at least one grown man to tears. With a wingspan of three feet, the ivory-billed woodpecker is the largest in North America. It was once sought for its feathers, used in women’s hats, and for its bill, believed by Native Americans to have magical powers. It became known as the Lord God bird, says ornithologist John Fitzpatrick, because when people saw it, they’d exclaim “Lord God, look at that bird.” Conservationists are working in concert with state and federal officials to secure the swampy area of eastern Arkansas where the bird was sighted, and plans to acquire more land in the area are in the works.