Sightings and a video a few years ago gave ornithologists hope that a bird believed extinct since the 1940s was still alive. But no one since has found an ivory billed woodpecker in the swamps of Arkansas, and much debate has developed over the fuzzy photos and video evidence.
"Ghost Bird," a documentary to be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15, at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, 592 NE Kansas 156 Highway, Great Bend, explores the debate over the evidence and some surprising angles of the story. Admission is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided by the Friends of Cheyenne Bottoms.
The possibility that the species still exists has invigorated efforts not only to conserve the bird but has also created an economic boon for the small community of Brinkley, Ark., said Curtis Wolf, director of the Wetlands Education Center.
The ivory billed woodpecker, about 20 inches long with a 30-inch wingspan, was the largest in North America. The habitat of the last known population of the birds was clear cut in the 1940s. Until 2005, when University of Arkansas professor David Luneau happened upon and shot video of what may have been an ivory billed woodpecker, the bird had not been seen since 1944.
"Ghost Bird," produced and directed by Scott Crocker, explores all sides of the story, focusing on the debate of whether spotters really saw an ivory-billed woodpecker and also on the issue of people's role in conserving our natural resources and how natural resources can also be used in ecotourism to help economies of small communities.
A second screening of “Ghost Bird” will occur at Sternberg Museum of Natural History on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m.
Other resources and photos are available on the Web at www.ghostbirdmovie.com.
The Wetlands Center site is at http://wetlandscenter.fhsu.edu/.