They call the Ivory-billed woodpecker the Holy Grail of birds.
But what might be the last push to find it involves a reward and a “wanted” poster reminiscent of something you’d see on the wall of an old-time post office.
You may recall the excitement nearly five years ago when a video clip was released of the bird — long considered extinct — in the Big Woods bottomland hardwood forest of Arkansas.
But no additional definitive proof of the Ivory-billed’s existence has emerged, despite three annual searches funded by The Nature Conservancy, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Now, an anonymous citizen is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the sighting of the bird — complete with a wanted poster (see above).
“This is our fourth year of organized searching,” says Allan Mueller, avian conservation manager for The Nature Conservancy in Arkansas.
“We really need to get the picture. While this is an important effort, some positive result is needed to assure continued funding [for the searches].”
Darci Palmquist’s nature.org feature about the latest on the search says that “Mueller and other conservationists are hoping the $50,000 reward will help intensify this year’s search effort and result in the evidence needed. The reward could motivate people who know and frequent the Big Woods — particularly hunters and anglers, who are among the most active conservationists in the area today.”
The 2004 interest sparked not just publicity, but direct conservation results: the protection of thousands of acres, some of which have been added to the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in the Big Woods.
Definitive evidence could provide inspiration to conservationists and bird-lovers everywhere.