Monday, November 07, 2005

ENV: Imperial Woodpecker

I'm passing along this note from the Mexico Birding listserv. The note just hit and there's been no response. No mention of familiarity with Lineated and/or Pale-billed Woodpecker. Based on the current knowledge of the bird and, frankly, the breathless tone and naivete of the reporter, i reserve all my skepticism for future attempts at ridicule. Nevertheless, i thought i'd pass it along so that as rumors float around someone can get a handle on the original report. P.s. i corrected a jillion misspellings (but not the atrocious grammar) in the text because it was just unreadable for me.


Ron and Sarojam Makau are bird-watching friends of mine. They are avid birdwatchers, who live (part-time) near Cabo Pulmo, BCS. They are both professors at UC Riverside in the Biology Dept.

They just got back from the Copper Canyon trip. They had some fantastic news ... they are sure, absolutly sure, that they saw an Imperial Woodpecker (!) near Divisadero on the north rim of Copper Canyon.

I questioned them closely, but they were sure, based on the description in Peterson.

Howell says that the bird is extinct and last sighting in 1956.

Peterson says very rare but not extinct.

They swear that they saw the female that has a very unusal reverse crest. They both are experienced birders and are biology professors at UC Riverside. They have birded all over the world and are really good birders. I believe their sighting.

They saw the bird about 30 ft up a pine tree, clinging to the trunk. They were about 50 to 60 feet away, with good light. They observed the bird for about 2 minutes, during that time the bird turned her head and the crest was seen at several angles, definitely matched the drawing in Peterson for the female. The bird flew off with slow heavy wingbeats (described as Raven-like flight). No sounds were heard. The sighting was about 0700 on the trail near the big hotel on the canyon rim.

If they aren't mistaken (and I don't think they are) I'm going to spend several days birding that area. Wow, to get a photo of a bird that is listed as extinct.

I haven't been following reports, but have there been any other sightings of this bird?

After Thanksgiving I'm crossing to the mainland and spending a week or so in that area trying to get a photo verification.

I know that this is an unconfirmed and second-hand report, but I personally know the reporters and believe their sighting.

Any comments from the group?

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