A Ibwo (not to be confused with IBWO, the banding code for Ivory-billed Woodpecker) has been rediscovered on Kauai after a disappearance of 132 years, according to a story in the Honolulu Advertiser on March 25, 2011. The warbler-sized honey creeper resembles an Iiwi, except that Iiwis are scarlet with downcurved bills, whereas Ibwos are all black with upcurved bills.
Thomas Bradford, an amateur ornithologist, who found the bird, said that he saw it land briefly on the trunk of a Kamani tree, then fly off into the forest. Using is cell phone, he recorded a few seconds of video of the departing bird, which he says demonstrate that the bird is, in fact, an Ibwo. However, three well-known ornithologists quickly disputed his conclusion, contending that the video is upside down, and what appears to be an upcurved bill is really the downcurved bill of an Iiwi. Therefore, the bird is either a melanistic Iiwi or an Iiwi whose scarlet color appears black in the darkness of the forest.
The discovery has caused great excitement in the nearby town of Campephilo, which is anticipating a large influx of birders come to see the long lost bird. In order to encourage ornithotourists, many residents of Campephilo now go about wearing black caps with the bills turned up. At one point, there was tension between the three ornithologists who dispute the identification and local residents when they appeared in town wearing scarlet caps with the bills turned down, but the Mayor of Campephilo shrewdly disfused the situation by trading brightly colored Hawaiian shirts for the scarlet caps.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has declared the forest off limits pending further investigation. Plans are already being drawn up for a large number of volunteers to walk the forest as soon as the rainy season get fully underway.
One birding tour company is offering an opportunity to see an Ibwo for $1200. Tour participants will sit from dawn to dusk for five days in a specially constructed covered grandstand just befind the USFSWS line, then spend evenings at a POSH hotel.
Bradford, owner of a nearby pineapple farm, said he was somewhat embarrassed by the many requests he gets for interviews. "I was not looking for an Ibwo, nor even an Iiwi" he says. "I just went behind a bush for a wee wee -- and now all of this!"
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Website: http://mobirds.org/