With the bird only 100 meters away, he was able to see without binoculars the broad white trailing edges of the wings characteristic of the ivory-bill, and noted the bird’s “loon-like” flight. Telltale signs of the fabled ivory-billed woodpecker. Could this mean that the bird, one of the world’s largest woodpeckers, still exists? According to Jim Fitzpatrick, the man who witnessed the sighting, “It may be a biological dead end. There may not be enough of a gene pool left, maybe only two or three pairs. But it was exciting and humbling to see and it gives the birding world a glimmer of hope.”
Fitzpatrick is the emeritus executive director of Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center and brother of Cornell Lab of Ornithology director John Fitzpatrick. His sighting was one of seven reported by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Arkansas between 2004 and 2005.
Join in on April 7 for Eagle Bluff’s Dinner on the Bluff where Fitzpatrick will share the details of his Arkansas adventure along with the bigger story of this woodpecker’s current status. Whether you are a naysayer to this theory or want to learn more about this majestic bird, Fitzpatrick’s engaging and personal encounter just may make you a believer that ivory-billed woodpeckers are still out there today.
A three-course meal featuring obscure food pairings such as chicken and waffles, chili and cinnamon rolls and sesame avocado chocolate mousse will follow Fitzpatrick’s presentation. To attend this presentation and dinner, pre-register at eagle-bluff.org by clicking “Seasonal Events” or call 507-467-2437. Overnight accommodations are also available.
Fitzpatrick, avid birder, retired in 2013 as the first emeritus executive director of the Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center near Hastings, Minn. Fitzpatrick started his career as a naturalist before transitioning to director in 1981 where he helped build the 725-acre nature center with help from many others. He developed programming such as the volunteer program, a development department, the captive wildlife program, and the orchard program. The center today has two campuses — one in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin. In 2012, Fitzpatrick was named master interpretive manager by the National Association for Interpretation. Shortly after that first sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker in 2004, Fitzpatrick took six separate trips to the south, joining search teams looking for habitats and signs of this amazing bird. In April 2004, Fitzpatrick was fortunate enough to be one of the few people to spot an ivory-billed woodpecker in Arkansas.