Thursday, April 28, 2005


I tried to snap a few pictures of our baby chick the other day, but because the mother hen had become so protective I only managed Bigfoot quality:

I thought about posting it and making a joke about Bigfoot, but decided to wait and try for a good photo when I had a spare minute.

But last night when I went to close up the chicken coop, the mama was on the roost instead of on the floor with her baby. Two of the hens were missing as well.

Have I mentioned the coyotes? This time last year they took several of our poultry, but those were the pre-Jasmine days. I thought she was keeping them at bay. Even back then we never lost three in one day.

I guess I am not going to make a very good homesteader woman if I keep crying over missing chickens.

As I was having my coffee this morning and wondering if I might be too sad to even write about this, my husband called and said to turn on the radio. "NPR has a story about the Ivory-billed woodpecker! They've seen one!"

"Oh yeah," I thought, "another Bigfoot story." Over the past few years NPR's Radio Expeditions has aired several stories about the hunt for Ivory bills.

In my heart I figured that hunting for Bigfoot might actually be more productive.

Ivory-billed woodpeckers are the reason that I know what the word extirpated means: used to be here, now it isn't. Gone because the trees are gone. Yeah there are still trees, but not their kind of tree. Not the big trees in the big swamps, because they weren't making anybody any money.

But the Nature Conservancy believes in wild places and buys them up. Can't talk landowners into conserving? Pool money and buy them out. Brilliant. Everybody wins. The discovery of the Ivory Bill was kept secret for over a year, to give time to protect the bird's habitat.

They may have managed to save Bigfoot after all.

Bird nerds, fall to your knees and weep. Published today in the journal Science: In central Arkansas, they found one.

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! I'm headed over to donate online to the Nature Conservancy right now.

Please consider doing the same.

Here's a New York Times article about it.
(Thanks Charles.)

It shouldn't require a login but if so you can grab one from BugMeNot if you don't have or want one.

Updated again:
Link to Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, which has more info.

Yes I'm a bird nerd, but I have no desire to run out and try to see this bird... I'm just happy to know that it's there!


Anonymous said...

That is awesome. And thanks for sharing it. AND kudos to The Nature Conservancy for keeping a lid on it long enough to get the land bought.

We have a LOT of pileated woodpeckers around our house. They're pretty cool in their own right...

"Bigfoot quality" - ;) Sometimes the digital camera just gets a mind of its own, and no amount of "fixing it in post" with Photoshop can help. We've all published photos that we thought were just under par, no? Not to worry - the rest of the images on the weblog speak to your attention to detail and quality!

Wayne said...

And pileated woodpeckers are wonderful too.

Charles said...

I came rushing over here to tell you this after getting an email from my brother. But I see you're already in the loop. I spent my entire childhood fanticizing about this bird.

shannon said...

I've gotten mighty depressed about missing chickens too - I don't think it reflects on our homestead-preparedness - it's just frustrating to put all that time and effort into a little chick only to have it devoured! Not to menton the hawks/coyote/foxes are so damn tricky!

Charles said...

it just hit the ny times on-line. I predict the front page of the print edition tomorow

Trey said...

Nice to run across someone else excited about this. Amazing.

Rurality said...

Yep I like the Pileated woodpeckers too. I hear them a lot here and see them now and then.

Shannon, we talked about putting up a fence but oh the cost! We're considering it though. We'll get a tax refund so we might do it. It's hard to decide where to spend extra $ when you just have a little, know what I mean?!

Thanks Charles, I updated the main page.

Trey, I am most giddy! I am still sad about my chickens but this really cheered me up.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

The news about the Ivory-billed woodpeckers is the best news I've heard in a very long time. The artist rendition of them shows them to be a truly beautiful bird.
I remember when a raccoon came and ate the goldfish right out of our very well-protected (but not enough) pond. It is such a helpless feeling when all your efforts still can't protect your critters from the natural predations of another.

Charles said...

and this provides a superb argument for the importance of preserving land and forests in the U.S., at a time when that argument is sorely needed.

yllstonewolf said...

i am fascinated and delighted to hear this - i have spent my childhood and adult life keenly longing for these missing pages to our story - i couldn't be more pleased to hear about this! spectacularly good news!

Rurality said...

I had forgotten that some people called the Ivory Bill the "Lord God Bird," because that was the reaction when people saw them... "Lord God!" (As an aside, I think people nowdays would be more likely to say "Good God" or "Oh My God" - which tells you that it's been a long time - since the 1930s or early 40s - since these birds have been seen.

RD, the coyotes are natural but are here in over-abundance. There are no mountain lions to prey on them so they multiply seemingly endlessly. They are especially bad in this county.

Charles you are so right.

Anne, now if only the passenger pigeon... nah!

Rurality said...

Best headline I've seen on this (even though they weren't very excited about it): 'ES NOT BLEEDIN DEMISED!

OK I'm going to stop commenting on my own post now. :)

Hick said...

I am so sad about your chickens. I don't like coyotes much either...their ugly and sneaky.

I have been reading various articles about the woodpecker all day. How exciting...but I'm not a bird nerd, I just like to watch them.

Anonymous said...

That is so wonderful about the woodpecker! I just love birds.

How sad about your chickens though. I was so excited about your wee baby chick.

We have a lot of coyotes here too (in Oregon ;) ), and I don't know how I've been so lucky as to not have any hens go missing. You can bet if it does happen I will be very weepy.


Anonymous said...

My husband's late father was a wildlife biologist who concentrated his work on wild turkeys. He also had a true fondness for ivory-billed woodpeckers.

He remembered seeing them when he was a boy growing up in Mississippi during the 1920s. In fact, as late as the early 1970s, he believed he saw a "log god" nest in the Pearl River basin. But no bird.

We thought it was special that Bobby R. Harrison of Oakwood College in Huntsville was among the initial spotters. The NYTimes reports that he sobbed at realizing what he'd seen.

We think we would have, too.

Rhodent said...

A saw a news item about the Ivory Billed Woodpecker on cable last night. It is wonderful! I've seen quite a few Pileated but these would be even more spectacular.

I am also a fan of the Nature Conservancy.

Rurality said...

Hick, they are definitely sneaky but I admit to thinking that they are actually pretty. When they are not eating chickens.

Sarah... what a difference a little vowel makes... AR vs OR.. LOL.

Anon - I cried when I heard it on the radio! Of course I was already a little weepy because of the chickens. :) All manner of avian inspired sobbing around here lately.

Rho, I had let our membership lapse a while back, but this made me rejoin!