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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






Sunday, October 22, 2006

 

-- Reviewing the Assumptions... again --


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To believe that Ivory-bills survive today one must make one underlying assumption; namely that SOME of the 100's of people to report IBWOs in the last 60 years were right. Conversely, a belief that IBWOs went extinct in the 40's requires an assumption that ALL of those 100's of claimants (eliminating the few outright hoaxes) have been mistaken, no matter how credible or knowledgeable the observer; i.e. none of the claimants are to be believed, but the judgments of all who followed these folks into the woods and failed to confirm the species ARE automatically adjudged meaningful. What are the chances?

Further, to argue for extinction one must presume that all pertinent areas of habitat have been adequately searched over time by enough competent observers, to rule out any likelihood of existence. Talk about "faith-based ornithology" --- the extinctionist stance rests completely on an unwarranted faith in the ability of scientists to have adequately searched all appropriate areas of the southeast US over the last 60 years... with cameras in hand no less, despite extensive searches being few and far between.

The Ivory-bill is not a mythical creature as some others may be (Loch Ness, Bigfoot, Martians?); everyone accepts that it existed in the 1940s (indeed, Tanner thought it existed in three dispersed locales, La., Fl., and S.C., even though he was unable to find the majority of them). For it to be alive today it needed only what all creatures need, a will to live, an impulse to breed, and a place to do both safely (as every other southeastern woodpecker succeeded in doing). Extinctionists have brought forth a pittance of evidence that it lacked any of this and yet on the basis of that pittance all-knowingly presume the species gone forever (largely for lack of a photograph).

The Ivory-bill was known to reside variously in bottomland mixed hardwoods, upland pine forest, and cypress swamps, and yet been pigeon-holed as a 'specialist' species requiring old growth habitat for survival (the fact that the last few individuals studied were in old growth forest, and that such habitat may have been favored when present is in no way an indication that it was a requirement for survival... anymore than observing college students eat pizza three days a week is an indication that pizza is a requirement for student survival). Indeed, few other birds of the American Southeast showed such specialist tendencies. (The very notion of 'specialist' versus 'generalist' is a somewhat arbitrary concoction of the human mind since all creatures have certain specialist tendencies.)

The Ivory-bill once existed; it is no longer hunted; it's potential habitat has only grown over the last several decades and is searched on but rare occasions; and other southeastern woodpecker populations have grown over that time. What is really more likely then, that there are zero left and (extraordinarily) every single reported sighting over that time is a mistake, or that some percentage of those reports are true? Given the typical creature's 'will to live' and adaptability, the typical scientists' 'rush to judgment' and overgeneralization, and the misunderstood short span of ecological time involved (60 years), and this creature's specific use of remote dense canopies, tree cavities, and rapid flight, you already know my answer to that question.
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