Cornell Ivory-bill Search

Tonight I'm going up to Duluth for some birding and maybe some hawk banding on Sunday. In the meantime, I give you some fun reading regarding the Cornell Ivory-billed Woodpecker Search.

So, I've been going over the information from Cornell about going on the ivory-bill search. This is by no means a cushy vacation or a cheap way to go look for the bird. I'm lucky that Eagle Optics is going to support me going along. How many bosses would do that--especially for someone they just hired? "Sure, go ahead and take two weeks to look for a giant woodpecker in Arkansas."

I've been reading over the agreements that I will have to sign and I'm going to have talk with Cornell about what I'm able to blog about, if I'm allowed to blog about it at all. Any information I collect or help create will belong to Cornell and I won't be able to use it without their written permission, which doesn't bother me too much, because I will get credit in their archives and this is part of an important research project.

There are two different search crews and these are the highlights of the contract and volunteer information for the crew I will be working on:

You are responsible for your own travel to and from Arkansas, including transportation from the airport if you are flying. We recommend flying into Memphis, TN or Little Rock, AR. These locations are both approximately 1.5-2.5 hours from our field stations. Travel to and from search areas and field sites will be provided by Cornell.

Group housing will be provided and is available from the Sunday night before your scheduled start date through the Saturday night before your scheduled departure on a Sunday. Please plan to arrive at your designated field station on Sunday, as your training will begin at 8:00am on Monday.

(Your) crew will stay at a USFWS-owned research station on the levee road, south of St. Charles. This is a rustic, remote location with a bunkhouse and small house trailer, both with a kitchen and bath. There are 5 bedrooms between the two. It’s definitely not the Hilton, but we hope you’ll be comfortable there. The phone line is poor and Internet access will likely not be available at this site. Cell phones should work on the levee wall, which is a short walk from the bunkhouse. People on this crew should plan to stay at the research station, as there are no hotels within commuting distance of the study site. Helena is the closest town with amenities, approximately an hour away.

You are responsible for your own food during your stay in Arkansas. (Your) crew will need to purchase food for at least a week on their drive from the airport. If driving from Memphis, I’d recommend shopping at the Super Walmart in Forrest City. Helena is the closest town with some amenities. Stuttgart and De Witt both have grocery stores as well on the west side of the river.

We recommend bringing:
1) binoculars – hopefully waterproof
2) chest waders-Women: Hodgman women's wadelight breathable stockingfoot chest waders
Cabela's women's G-II boot-foot chest wader
3) field clothing – lots of warm layers
4) warm socks – again use layers
5) warm gloves/mittens
6) warm hat – preferably a dark color or camo
7) foot and hand chemical heat packs – slip in your boots and gloves
8) watch
9) compass
10) camouflage outer layer (required) – a camo mesh bug suit works well. You can wear it over shorts and t-shirt or over a bunch of warm layers. It’s also reasonable for keeping bugs at bay, so it’s pretty multi-purpose
11) thermos
12) water bottles
13) knee high rubber boots – are pretty handy and available at local Walmarts
14) head lamp or flashlight
15) bedding – most beds are twins
16) sleeping bag – instead of bedding is fine
17) pillow
18) towel
19) personal audio, video, and camera equipment
20) cell phone

What we’ll provide:
1) canoes
2) paddles
3) pfds
4) GPS unit
5) video camera
6) training manual
7) field notebooks and dataforms

Again, not a relaxing vacation. Did I include in the above that the field work consists of 10 to 12 hour days, mostly in blinds? However, this will be the chance of a lifetime.