Birdberg Blotter

Reopening Birdberg Blotter

© 2006 Ben S. Pollock

If Twitter had been up in February 2006, these listings from a mirthological police blotter log would have been tweets. But that social medium came about weeks later. The ivory-billed woodpecker, unofficially considered extinct, had been spotted the previous two years in rural Arkansas.

Ivory-billed woodpeckers wouldn’t tweet, those peckers kent.

What if regular people had spotted the majestic “Lord God Bird” instead of experienced birdwatchers? To read the cop log entries as most-recent-first blog posts now would be tiresome, so in honor of the official declaration of extinction on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, the Birdberg Blotter is compiled here in chronological order. (In reflection, unlike our graceful birds some of these “reports” do not land.)

Pileated Police Log

Sunday, February 12, 2006

NEWS ITEM (AP, more or less) — Recordings of the ivory-billed woodpecker’s distinctive calls have convinced doubting researchers that the large bird once thought extinct is still living in an Arkansas swamp, the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge.

“We sent them some sounds this summer,” said John W. Fitzpatrick, director of the Cornell University ornithology lab. “We appreciate their ability to say they are now believers.”

This species eats some plant matter but also the larvae of wood-boring insects, such as the longhorn beetle. The ivory-bill can be confused with the relatively abundant pileated woodpecker.

The doubters — from Yale, Kansas and Florida Gulf Coast universities — are withdrawing a scientific journal article questioning whether the bird had really been found, according to Yale ornithologist Richard Prum.

Hand-colored engraving of ivory-billed woodpeckers - male on the left, female on the right - by John James Audubon, between 1827 and 1838
Hand-colored engraving of ivory-billed woodpeckers – male on the left, female on the right – by John James Audubon, between 1827 and 1838. Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Audubon Prints Stolen

Monday, February 13, 2006

Caller on North Fiddlesticks Place accuses ex-roommate of stealing pictures. He is not sure about the roommate, as he left “the other day, I think.” Audubon wildlife prints went missing overnight. Oddly, there is a great number of nail holes in walls that complainant does not remember.

Cartoon Videos Pillaged

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Blockbuster Video reported cartoon section ransacked during night.

Tea, Plants Taken

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Woman at 114 N. School St. reported drinks and plants taken from her apartment. Drink was Southern sweet tea — pitcher still had inch of beverage, which patrolman sampled for authenticity because test kit was back in the car. Complainant vowed pitcher full last night and that she accidentally left it on kitchen counter instead of ice box.

Missing plants included magnolia, hickory and grapevines she was trying to root.

Intruders Watch TV

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Caller at 1207 Sherlock Ave. reported a burglary, with the intruders watching television inside the house. Caller said suspects must have escaped out large, open window with ripped screen as he entered through back door. Was sure TV off when he went to work, but DVD of Woody Woodpecker cartoons was still on when officers arrived. He is sure he does not own such a disk.

Windowpane Pain

Friday, February 17, 2006

Caller at 1321 S. Hendricks St. reported waking to hear someone knocking on windowpanes. Caller said sound was double-knock: “BAM-bam” with both bams sharp and short, a hammer tap more than a fist thud.

Flying Monkey?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Man with Amalgamated Trucking reported a black monkey with red and ivory features loose on Spanking Road out in the county. When questioned, he said monkey was as realistic a critter as he could name, but what he saw was in flight, with perhaps a 33-inch wingspread. Agreed with responding deputy that monkeys don’t fly, at least in Arkansas.

Not a Marimba

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Man at 1004 W. Deadhorse Mountain Road reported xylophone stolen from church at that address. Parson said this was a traditional xylophone, the kind with wooden bars.

Not Tequila Mockingbird

Monday, February 20, 2006

Man with Bypass Liquor Warehouse reported a case of mescal was stolen. No sign of entry but, oddly, fresh droppings of a number of birds discovered on dock.

Other Shoe Drops

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Woman on North Hemlock Drive reported being assaulted with a shoe. On interrogation, woman said shoe seemed to have dropped from sky on her head, but that claim of assault would bring officers more quickly. Shoe not her size and not this season’s, either, she told sheriff.

Ear Notch

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Woman on North Linden Avenue reported a man’s ear being bitten outside a Petsmart. The man was her husband, but she called because he was too embarrassed. Victim wearing a red-and-black cap with an ivory bill. He had just bought 50-pound sack of bird food, “guaranteed to contain not less than 50 percent wood-boring beetles at all stages of maturity.”

Husband said item was on sale, thought it might go in bird feeders instead of seed and better repulse squirrels. At time of attack, he witnessed a flutter of black and white wings, along with high-pitched bird calls that sounded like “Look out, chump.”

NOTE: Comment posted to this entry, Feb. 22, 2006: “The more I read blogs like this, Bigshot Ben, the more I realize that the Internet isn’t the Great Opportunity, the Future.
“It’s the galaxy’s largest restroom stall: ‘Here I sit, broken-hearted’ and all that. Little even that profound.
“In conclusion, for ‘a good time,’ do NOT ‘call this number.’ — Noah”

Mallets Aforethought

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Woman on Rural Route 49 reported hearing xylophone in the woods. Tune was “Born on the Bayou” but played fast, as if by “giant hummingbirds with mallets.”

Check This

Friday, February 24, 2006

Manager of Big Woods Wal-Mart reported four cases of forgery overnight, with holes and tears at checks’ signature lines. Cashier did not readily know which real Supercenter customer signs checks with holes and tears, as most use their names, although a few regulars scrawl out an X.

Bayou Battle

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Two rangers at Cache River National Wildlife Refuge report breaking up a war between two flocks of woodpeckers. One ranger claimed they fought like in West Side Story.

First ranger said a darker, smaller gang had as many as 24 members, apparently Pileated Woodpeckers, according to field book. Gang of four larger yet faster woodpeckers with more white on wings held them at bay.

Field book appendix confirmed those four were Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, thought extinct. “That’s why they was so mad,” Ranger A reported.

Ivory-bills won in second overtime. Lead male flew down, picked up pine cone in beak and “spiked it.” Then, “I be dogged but he danced an aerial jig,” reported Ranger A.

Inspection of marsh showed that pileated ‘peckers did suffer casualties, but abundant numbers show as a species they’re in no danger from resurgence of ivory bills.

Ranger B told the shift supervisor they arrived at scene after confiscating a “mess of mescal bottles” at picnic pavilion. Noted all grubs from the bottles missing but some still had lots of liquor in them. Confirmed type of beverage by testing manually because analysis kit left at headquarters.

Casebook Closed

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