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 Jacque Smith, Director of Public Relations

Jan. 27, 2006

Union College and Wachiska Audubon Society present:
Rediscovering the ivory-billed woodpecker—a firsthand account by Bobby Harrison

Bobby Harrison

 “I have always believed that the ivory-billed woodpecker still lived, and finding one has been a dominant force in my life for more than three decades. Finding an ivory-bill was a 33-year dream come true for me.” ~Bobby Harrison

LINCOLN, Neb.—One of the first people to sight the famous bird that has eluded researchers for decades will present his experience with the long-thought extinct ivory-billed woodpecker on Feb. 16, 7 p.m., at Union College. Bobby Harrison, one of a small group convinced the dream sighting would come true, will discuss his life-long connection to the elusive bird, describe its habitat and show documentation of its sightings.
        The free presentation is open to the public and will be in the amphitheater of the Everett Dick Administration Building located at the center of Union’s campus (3800 S. 48th St.). Seating will be limited; doors will open at 6 p.m. Union College is co-sponsoring the event with the Wachiska Audubon Society, which regularly meets on the Union College campus. Free parking is available on campus, off of Bancroft or Prescott avenues, or in the lots of the College View Seventh-day Adventist church.
        The mysterious ivory-billed woodpecker has been the topic of national attention and celebration since spring 2005 after the journal Science on its Science Express Web site (April 28, 2005) reported the bird had been rediscovered in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. Prior to this report, it had been more than 60 years since the last confirmed sighting of the species. The evidence on the ivory-bill, the largest woodpecker in North America, was gathered during a yearlong search involving more than 50 experts and field biologists, including Harrison. This group continues their work together as part of the Big Woods Conservation partnership led by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology at Cornell University and The Nature Conservancy.
        Harrison, an associate professor of art and photography at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Ala., is one of the first three people involved in the search to see and identify the famous bird in Arkansas. As an avid bird watcher and a student of the ivory-billed woodpecker since 1973, Harrison began searching for ivory-bills in 1995 in Florida, and he has since searched in Georgia and Louisiana. Harrison is one of the recipients of the prestigious 2006 Explorer’s Club Conservationist of the Year Award and has received three awards in the Nature’s Best photography competitions. He was also featured in the television series, Nature’s Best Photography, produced by the National Wildlife Federation and Nikon Incorporated. He has published articles on birds and bird photography in most North American birding magazines and calendars including Audubon, Birder’s World, Outdoor Photographer and many others.
        “The rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker is arguably the greatest event in ornithology in more than a century,” said Russell Duerksen, area attorney who is an avid birder, Wachiska Audubon member and ornithology teacher at Union College. “Hearing a first-hand account of Bobby’s monumental ivory-bill sightings will be a rare and wonderful opportunity for all bird and wildlife enthusiasts in this region.”
        For more information on the ivory-billed woodpecker including a detailed account of the sightings and conservation efforts surrounding the ongoing search, visit the Big Woods Conservation Partnership Web site:

See also:
Harrison Biographical Sketch

Union College is an accredited, comprehensive college and a member of the Nebraska Independent College Foundation. Enrolling 930 students from 44 states and 26 countries, the campus, 50 acres of tree-covered property in southeast Lincoln, is a site of the statewide arboretum system. With a focus on undergraduate students, Union’s nurturing environment offers a traditional liberal arts education combined with practical experiences such as internships, academic and career counseling, study abroad and volunteer opportunities. In the comfortable campus atmosphere where professors, not graduate students, teach classes, Union students can choose from more than 50 majors, including a Master of Physician Assistant Studies, or a personalized degree. Learn more:

The Wachiska Audubon Society was chartered by the National Audubon Society in March 1973 as a local chapter to serve 17 counties in Southeast Nebraska. To date, there are more than 1,000 members supporting the chapter’s conservation education mission: to share the experience and love of nature that life may flourish in all its natural diversity. A nonprofit organization, the chapter is governed by a volunteer board with an office in Lincoln, Neb. Annual activities include monthly general meetings with speakers relating to nature, habitat, and the environment; Christmas Bird Count; birdseed sales; Backyard Wildlife Habitat Tour; and the prairie preservation project. “Wachiska” is an Omaha Indian word meaning “land of many streams.”


Harrison in camouflage