When I was 6 or 7, I saw an ivory-billed woodpecker  in upstate NY. My mother spotted it, and called for me to come look. I can still see the immense black and white bird as it sailed through the woods in the back of our house. In fact, our house backed up against an old forest of elm (mostly sick and dying at that point) and maple. My mother said she thought the elm disease was also making the ivory-billed woodpecker scarce – she hadn’t seen one since she was a girl, and so her excitement when she spotted this one (in 1966 – ’67). The impression I had was of a bird of great size, impressive wingspan and dramatic coloring, with a distinctive and very visible ivory beak.

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