The Mother of All Woodpeckers


If you’re anywhere near 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street today, you should stop by for the premier of ‘Ghost Birds’, a documentary making its debut at the ‘Birds at Anthology Film Archives’ (Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Ave @ 2nd St.). This film is about the fabled Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a rather large and possibly extinct woodpecker that was supposedly sighted in the swamps of Brinkley, Arkansas.

In a somewhat unrelated story, about 2 years back we made reference to the Ivory-billed woodpecker in the opening paragraph of an article about another rare bird - ‘The Mother of All Telephotos’ - a review we wrote about a Canon EF 1200/5.6L that showed up in our Used Department

Using this monster lens we were able to read street signs in  Weekawken, New Jersey from our rooftop in mid-town Manhattan. With total production amounting to less than 20 lenses, the Canon EF 1200/5.6L, which was originally released about 30 years ago and is now out of production, is almost as rare a bird as the woodpeckers of Brinkley Arkansas. (Rumor has it the only guy able to hand-polish the huge glass elements has long-since retired.)

The lens we originally wrote about has since been sold, but we have since acquired a 2ndCanon 1200/5.6L USM, which is not only cleaner than the first one we had in stock, but comes with a custom ‘wheelie’ case that holds the original trunk case that originally came with the lens. Pack mule still not included.

Interstate birding anyone?

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Bait-and-switch is always annoying, even when it jams together two totally awesome (but completely unrelated) things.

Thanks Allan! This is right in my neighborhood:)

I believe the ****** in question is affectionatelly referred to as the "Lord God Bird".

This American Life did a segment on a man obsessed with finding the Ivory-billed Woodpecker as part of their TV series -- I believe (and my best friend, Johnny Wikipedia confirms) it was the third episode of the second season, 'Going Down in History.' He had some very grainy video footage of what he believed to be the bird.

Perhaps the footage would have been clearer had he been using a 1200mm lens...

I think Lou can still hold his own.  Did you see his bit role in "I Love You, Man"?  He's still gigantic and scary.

Though I would love to see him in a Coney Island side show...

I think Lou is currently working the sideshow circuit in Coney Island. His specialty is bending day-old pretzels with his gums.

 I seriously doubt that you would say that to Lou's face. 

I suppose you think that comment is funny or something.

It isn't funny.

It's sad, mean, and insulting. 

 Concerning the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas, Cornell Lab of Ornithology mounted a massive effort to collect confirming images without success.  I supplied four field portable custom time lapse closed circuit video systems (see our web site at for images of these analog systems).

Subsequently, Auburn University staff and graduate students, had numerous sightings in the Choctawhatchee River basin in the Florida panhandle.  We supplied a digital field CCTV recording system to Auburn.  Unfortunately, no definitive images were collected despite over a half dozen sightings by various trained observers. 

Anyone seriously interested who did collect some definitive images could become instantly famous - worldwide.  Bring lots of mosquito repellant or go in the winter when the leaves are off the trees and that tele lens could be used to full advantage.

There have been basically no sightings in that area over the last two years.