Bobby Harrison to Speak on Rediscovering the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, April 11, 2007 — Noon, ACU Campus, Hart Auditorium


The Ivory-billed Woodpecker was last sighted in 1944 and was thought to be extinct. However in 2004 this species was sighted again causing worldwide excitement.


Bobby Harrison, associate professor of art and photography at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, is one of three people to rediscover the Ivory-bill in Arkansas. Please join us to hear Bobby discuss the current controversy surrounding their find, current search efforts in Arkansas’ Cache River National Wildlife Refuge, and the current evidence found in the Florida panhandle search. For more information, please read below:

  • Who: Bobby Harrison
  • What: The Call of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker – Rediscovering the Holy Grail of Birds
  • When: Wednesday, April 11, 2007, at noon
  • Where: ACU Campus, Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building, Hart Auditorium
  • Free Admission


For more than 60 years, every potential sighting of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker was met with ridicule and scorn. Respected researchers and naturalists were branded as quacks just for having the temerity to say that the Ivory-bill still existed. But Bobby Harrison and Tim Gallagher refused to accept the grim conclusion of most scientists that the Ivory-bill was extinct. Both became interested in the Ivory-bill in 1972 after reading that the Holy Grail of birds had been seen in eastern Texas in the late 1960s. Then like all previous sightings of this ghost, the professional world of ornithology labeled the sighting as a mis-identified Pileated Woodpecker. But that sighting began both Harrison and Gallagher, who did not know each other at the time, on a life-long quest to find the Phantom of the Bayou. Once Harrison and Gallagher discovered each other’s life-long passion for the bird they joined forces and began traveling through the South, interviewing people who claimed to have seen this ghost bird of the shadowy swamp.


And if a sighting seemed credible, they hit the swamp, wading through hip-deep, boot-sucking mud and canoeing through turgid, mud brown bayous where deadly cottonmouths abound. On one of these trips, checking a recent sighting by an Arkansas kayaker, an unmistakable Ivory-bill flew past at close range in front of their canoe. This sighting–the first confirmed sighting since 1944 that two qualified observers had positively identified an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the United States–quickly led to the largest search ever launched to find a rare bird and ultimately to the announcement in April, 2005 of the rediscovery of the species.

Bobby will tell the story of the Ivory-bill’s near demise and miraculous resurrection. His program will cover the current controversy of the Ivory-bill’s rediscovery, the current search effort, and evidence of Ivory-bills that have been recently found in other states. He will also show his unpublished Ivory-billed Woodpecker video that was shot on September 4, 2004. For 33 years Bobby sought the holy grail of birds. His story is a first-hand account of its rediscovery, a story that you will not want to miss!

Brought to you by:

  • Abilene Zoo
  • Big Country Audubon Society
  • Representatives of Abilene Christian University, Hardin Simmons University, and McMurry University

2 responses to “Bobby Harrison to Speak on Rediscovering the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, April 11, 2007 — Noon, ACU Campus, Hart Auditorium”

  1. How spectacular to know there are still people with this kind of passion and enthusiasm for our native wildlife! This will be a wonderful opportunity, thank you for bringing him to Abilene.