the bird is the word
there was some disappointing news in the avian world yesterday. scientists in scotland have deemed inconclusive the 2004 sighting in arkansas of an ivory-billed woodpecker, suggesting that the videotaped bird was a pileated woodpecker instead. the apparent reappearance of the ivory-billed woodpecker, also known as the lord god bird, caused a major stir among conservationists who hailed its return as a triumph of nature. the bird, last seen in 1944, was thought to have been rendered extinct by extensive logging that overran its swampland habitat in the late 1800's. its return triggered a mini-revival of sorts in the small town of brinkley, arkansas, near where the bird was first spotted, whose residents greeted the attention with varying degrees of hope, excitement, and bewilderment. in response to a request or, some say, a challenge by two npr reporters, sufjan stevens even wrote a song about the lord god bird and its effect on this town that once thrived during the industrial days of world war ii, but had since been long forgotten. although the identity of the bird is now up for debate, and some scientists are still adamant that it is indeed an ivory-billed woodpecker, the story is a nice example of the ways in which we affect our environment and the ways that people can respond when they become aware of more than their immediate existence.
this has already made the rounds several times i'm sure, but for those who have missed it before, here's sufjan's song and the npr story about the bird who by legend got its nickname by the reaction of many seeing it for the first time--"lord god, what a bird!"
sufjan stevens : "the lord god bird"
npr : "the lord god bird story"