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IVORY-BILLS  LiVE???!  ...

=> THE blog devoted to news and commentary on the most iconic bird in American ornithology, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWO)... and... sometimes other schtuff.
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"....The truth is out there."

-- Dr. Jerome Jackson, 2002 (... & Agent Fox Mulder)

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

-- Hamlet

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

-- Arthur Schopenhauer






Wednesday, August 31, 2005

 

- How To Do a Good IBWO Search -

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One of the most frequent questions posed by skeptics is, "How could such a large bird have escaped detection for 60 years?"

First off, they are simply WRONG: the bird has been credibly reported (just never confirmed) dozens of times through the years; and undoubtedly there are dozens more sightings never officially turned in. But I'll put all that aside for the moment.
Let's instead start with a few assumptions:

1) this bird resides in remote, dense, difficult-to-access areas
2) this bird knows every crook-and-cranny of its forest habitat (and has a decided advantage over the typical human entering such habitat)
3) this bird is wary of people and upon seeing/sensing their presence from 100-400 yards away will either:
a. duck inside a tree-hole, becoming INVISIBLE to all who pass, or
b. simply fly off in an opposite direction from the human activity.

(not everyone will accept these assumptions, but I think them safe, or at least reasonable)

So how do you conduct an adequate search for such a creature? SIMPLE:
You totally encircle the area in question with trained observers, with synchronized watches, who at an agreed time, begin tracking inward (of course some habitat parts will be impassable...) so that whichever direction a shy IBWO flies off in, to escape one set of searchers, it comes into view of a different group (if it simply dives into a roost-hole, of course, you're still out--of-luck!). Simple, but of course IMPOSSIBLE! -- how many observers would be required to encircle even an area of 25,000 acres let alone regions like the Atchafalaya in LA., Appalachicola in FL., or Big Woods of AR. (100,000s of acres)? In short, the searches done to this point are inherently inadequate to the task-at-hand. What IS remarkable is not the lack of sightings over 60 years, but truly the number of repeated reports over those years by sheer chance and incredible luck of single observers!! -- And equally remarkable, the lack of seriousness applied to those sightings by so many birders/writers.
Nobody ever said that finding/confirming Ivory-bills would be easy -- and yet "easy" is exactly what so many skeptics seem to imply it ought be. Go figure???
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