We regret Jackson's choice of words in reference to our scientific integrity and ethics. We made every effort to strictly limit our letter (Fitzpatrick et al. 2006) to correcting errors made in his earlier commentary (Jackson 2006a), and we stand by every one of the points we made. In his response here, Jackson (2006b) wonders if we have read Lamb's work, yet acknowledges his own error on the point we raised about Lamb's findings. We are confused by this. As we mentioned in our original article (Fitzpatrick et al. 2005), George Lamb did indeed photograph Ivory-billed Woodpeckers (Campephilus principalis) during his expedition to Cuba in 1956. We are in possession of one of these unpublished photographs (courtesy of Lamb), and we are investigating the whereabouts of several others known to exist.
With respect to the persistence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in North America, responsible scientists differ in their interpretations of the evidence to date, and all hope that more will be forthcoming. We are pleased that Jackson agrees that conducting a systematic search for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, in Arkansas and in other promising areas across the historic range of the species, is both essential and long overdue. Properly surveying the many extensive areas of regenerating forest in the south-eastern United States where the species is rumored to exist is difficult, labor-intensive, and expensive. Federal funding for this search continues to be modest, and in no way jeopardizes the funding of any other endangered species recovery efforts. We will continue to augment this funding with whatever state, local, and private resources we can secure, and we encourage others to do the same. We continue to cooperate with numerous colleagues in this scientific effort, and will do so as long as we encounter evidence that one or more breeding pairs of this magnificent woodpecker could exist. Finding breeding pairs has been our goal since we began our searches in Arkansas in 2004, and our criteria for proof of such do not differ at all from those of Jackson or others who have criticized our work. We adhere to the tenet that investigating a possible future for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is not justifiably separated from active efforts to restore large tracts of old-growth southern forest. We encourage a vigorous and united focus on both tasks.