If confirmed, the stubborn survival of these birds is a hopeful sign. What other species might be present in remote and inaccessible lands?
We shouldn’t be surprised they’re hard to find and photograph. In the Guardian article, one of the lead researchers said “No one has held a camera and got a picture of one in years because it’s a scarce bird in tough swampy habitat and they don’t want people close to them because they’ve been shot at for 150 years. They have better eyes than we do, they are high in the trees and actively flee people. They aren’t great thinkers but they have developed a pretty simple strategy to avoid people.” Even though the researchers used trailcams, time lapses, drones, and audio recordings in their search, evidence was hard to come by, and has not yet been peer reviewed, so the jury is still out.
Next time you’re testing your patience by waiting for an owl to do something, or an elk to bugle, or the sun to poke through the clouds, think about the scientists who spent three years trying to find and photograph the ivory-billed woodpecker.