JONESBORO, AR (PRWEB) October 30, 2005
New conservation stamps and limited edition prints to raise much-needed funds to save the recently rediscovered Ivory-billed Woodpecker have gone on sale. Patterned after the highly-successful Federal Duck Stamp (required since 1934 for all U.S. waterfowl hunters age 16 and up) and Arkansas Duck Stamp Prints, the design came from the original oil painting "Elusive Ivory" by wildlife artist Larry Chandler of Hartselle, Alabama.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker made headlines worldwide after a press conference on its rediscovery April 28, 2005 at the U.S. Department of the Interior Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The last confirmed sighting of the bird, before the one in Eastern Arkansas in February 2004, is from the 1944, almost 60 years earlier. There is no doubt it's the rarest bird in all of North America.
Most ornithologists who were skeptical after seeing the original scientific evidence presented, including a short and fuzzy video of the bird in flight, were convinced it exists after hearing new audio released to the public at the American Ornithologists Union meeting August 24, 2005. This new audio evidence captured the bird's unique "kent" calls, which were documented in 1935.
The price range for all items offered by the Official Ivory-billed Woodpecker Conservation Stamp Print Program starts at $9.00 for a Cloisonne collector pin and go up to $315.00 for the special Search Team Edition print hand-signed by the artist and all 4 members of a search team who first observed the bird along the Cache River in what's called the Big Woods area of Eastern Arkansas.
Proceeds from the sale of conservation stamps and prints will be evenly divided between The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, The Nature Conservancy and the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation.
The most popular item is expected to be the $15.00 Ivory-billed Woodpecker Conservation Stamp, as this rare bird species has never before appeared on any postage stamp in the United States.
Interestingly, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker has been featured on a postage stamp 4 times in Cuba, since that was once the best place to see the bird (Campephilus principalis) in North America. Because stamp collecting is considered to be among most popular hobbies all across the globe, publisher Larry Grisham said "I expect we could sell over 200,000 of these stamps, which would raise well over a million dollars to help protect this gravely endangered woodpecker species."
There is also a Governor's Edition print which will be hand-signed by the artist and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and will also include the Official Arkansas State Seal. This edition is limited to only 500 prints and sells for $265.00, including a mint unsigned Ivory-bill stamp.
For birders, as bird watchers often call themselves, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is at the top of their life list as THE most difficult bird species to view at least once in their lifetime. Because most ornithologists considered it extinct for many years, pictures of Ivory-bills began to be removed from bird watching guide books. Sporadic unconfirmed sightings by amateur birders were discarded under an assumption they were observing the similar-looking Pilleated Woodpecker. Eventually, reports of living Ivory-bills became considered as unreliable as Bigfoot sightings.
Many of the estimated 70 million bird watchers in the United States will want to visit Arkansas to see the bird. But, thanks to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Conservation Stamp Print Program, they can see one on their wall without leaving home and their purchase will help to ensure this rare bird will survive. The stamp print will be the perfect holiday gift for birders this year.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the nation's most-respected rare bird research organization and provided the funding to acquire most of the current evidence. The new audio evidence was recorded by 24 Autonomous Recording Units (ARUs) installed 153 times, for 2-4 weeks at a time, in two main areas near the White River and Cache River National Wildlife Refuges in Arkansas.
The Nature Conservancy is America's foremost conservation organization focusing on purchasing land in the United States that is critical for wildlife habitat. The non-profit group bought thousands of acres of nearby land before word of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker's rediscovery got out to the press. They plan to buy more adjacent land with their share of stamp/print proceeds.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation is the non-profit arm of the state wildlife department in Arkansas which is called the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. They plan to use their portion of the proceeds for public education, which will be needed for long-term protection of the bird.
Wildlife artist Larry Chandler learned about the bird from his long-time friend Bobby Harrison, who along with Tim Gallagher, made the first confirmed sighting of the bird in almost 60 years. It was Harrison, Associate Professor at Oakwood College in Huntsville, Alabama, who told him he needed to do a painting of the bird. After being sworn to secrecy, "I had to be the hands of the eyes that had seen the vision", Chandler said. His design captured the grace of this bird.
The great thing about this Ivory-billed Woodpecker Conservation Stamp Print Program is, rather than just making a tax-deductible contribution, people who buy the conservation stamp or print
will get something back for their contribution. The print is proof you did something tangible to help this bird's cause and further, it makes a lovely addition to your home or office decor.
The limited edition prints are expected to become more valuable in the future on the secondary market, which is another incentive. For example, all of the earliest Federal and First of State Duck Stamp Prints, originally selling from $15 to $125 each, are now worth thousands of dollars.
For more information on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Conservation Stamp Print Program, visit the web site for it at http://www.ivory-bill-woodpecker.com. It offers news, photos, video and much more.