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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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Web ivorybills.blogspot.com

"....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, January 31, 2007

 

-- More From Dr. Hill --

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Dr. Hill's latest Auburn update recounts the ongoing deployment of remote cameras for their project, and explains the reasons they are using time-lapse cameras (which will generate a lot of data to sift through, essentially snapping a picture every 12 seconds during daylight hrs.) rather than motion-activated cameras as have been used in the Big Woods (AR.) --- apparently there is still room for debate over the advantages/disadvanatges of different camera set-ups. David Luneau will have an article addressing this topic in the forthcoming Mar/Apr edition of Birding Magazine.
If Dr. Hill's group is successful at photographically documenting the Ivory-bill, several of the techniques they are devising or refining may prove useful in future research endeavors with other species.
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Link

Sunday, January 28, 2007

 

-- No News Is OK News --



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Since Dr. Hill's last update Ivory-bill news has been unusually slow (not much new on the Web nor in my emails). Of course we all know that can only mean 1 of 2 things: either there is nothing much newsworthy happening in the field... OR... there is SOMEthing noteworthy happening in the field : - )

In the meantime, to hold you over, here are a couple of weekend posts from "Erik Hendrickson" on the Ivory-bill Researchers' Forum in which he talks about a sighting he claims in Dec. 2005 in the Cache River area (AR.):

http://www.ibwo.net/forum/showpost.php?p=918&postcount=33

http://www.ibwo.net/forum/showpost.php?p=922&postcount=36


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Friday, January 26, 2007

 

-- Biding Time --

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Just a couple of crass commercial sidebars
while awaiting for any solid news to come along:

Current Ivory-billed Woodpecker items for sale on eBay are here.

...and, in deference to some acquaintances involved with Scienceblogs.com (interesting site, something for EVERYbody) I'll put in a plug for the "The Open Laboratory," the first annual anthology of outstanding science blog posts, just out (likely of interest to some of you, but nothing specifically to do with Ivory-bills):

Read about it here (I have no financial interest in it):

http://tailrank.com/1093958/The-Open-Laboratory

or order it from here.

....just maybe next year's edition will include a post on Campephilus principalis!

By now Cornell's 4-man mobile search team should be on board with Dr. Hill's group at the Choctawhatchee, assisting there for a couple of weeks, after being very impressed with parts of the Apalachicola region to the east. Keep in mind that their general mission is to evaluate areas for Ivory-bill potential and later make recommendations for places most needing further study (of course they could always cross paths with IBWOs in the process).

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

 

-- Dr. Mennill Explains Further --

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Here, Dr. Mennill of the Auburn team further explains how they manage to achieve 24-hr. turnaround time on the analysis of bioacoustic data from the Choctawhatchee search site:

http://web2.uwindsor.ca/courses/biology/dmennill/IBWO/IBWO07News.html

In the end, these techniques just may prove crucial to attaining the desired photographic evidence... or not!?
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-- On and On It Goes --

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Here is David Luneau's latest addition to his website (...just to keep 'rumor' fans with something to chew on : - ):
"Remote camera work is proceeding --- nothing exciting to report (yet). It keeps me too busy to keep this site updated as often as I would like to. I'll try to get some new pictures up soon."
Remote cameras (if enough of them are deployed) certainly represent possibly the single best source for an Ivory-bill photo. For the last 48 hrs. I've tried to track the photo rumors coming out of the Fla. Panhandle, but have found nothing substantive in that regard (lot of verbiage!). Possibly, a purported photo got turned in (as has happened repeatedly since Cornell's announcement), that is inconclusive. As for a definitive photo(s) I'm doubtful, but someone out there knows the truth, whatever it be. Or, maybe David will have some interesting "new pictures" up shortly... ; - )

And in other matters, Julie Zickefoose meets with Jerry Jackson here:

http://www.juliezickefoose.com/blog/2007/01/down-to-naples.html


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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

 

-- Rumors, Schmoomers --

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Just a little housecleaning on all the rumors business:

Back when the Tyler Hicks' sighting news broke it arrived at my computer early in the morning but 10 mins. after I had left for work. I arrived back home around 4 pm. to the news, and to a string of emails asking me why I wasn't covering the story. I'm trying to avoid that situation happening again. So...

In directing folks to monitor Dr. Hill's or any other website, it is my way of saying I expect to be away from the Net a lot, and in the event certain news should break, folks ought to monitor this-or-that-site (rather than mine).
In the latest instance, the Auburn folks are denying any photographic evidence as had been rumored, and Dr. Hill makes no mention of it in his latest post (although the rumor still has some legs). On a semantic note, whenever I refer to something as a "rumor" it is specifically because I can't find enough details, substantiation, or credibility to call it anything else. If I find (through multiple sources) some substance and credibility in it (raising it above rumor) I usually call it "information," such as 'information from a credible source', or 'information from someone close to the scene', or the like. In short, rumors are interesting, but not to be taken too seriously 'til they get to a higher level. It's a tough call between acknowledging certain rumors even cautiously, as a heads-up, on a blog (in the event they develop further), or ignoring them, knowing how they take on a life of their own once unleashed on the Web, which doesn't help matters... And the next few weeks/months could be a field day for rumors.

oooooh, gotta go, the State of the Union Address coming up... this oughta be good... for Letterman, Leno, Jon Stewart, Colbert....
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-- 'Grandeur In This View Of Life' --

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For the literary-inclined out there, this prose/poetry offering from Rice English Professor Susan Wood:

http://cat.middlebury.edu/~nereview/wood.html


... and there are always rumors wafting around; I'll be away from a computer for large chunks of time, but just maybe, might possibly be worth monitoring Dr. Hill's 'update' site closely for the next 24-48 hrs...

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Monday, January 22, 2007

 

-- Forget the Cake and 39 Candles --

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You all know what's coming up in a couple of weeks, right.... NOOOO!, I don't mean the friggin' Super Bowl**.... Cyberthrush's
39+++++th birthday. So YO!, Auburn, Cornell, USF&W, Mike C., Uncle Louie, Tooth Fairy, whomever --- come on y'all, you know what I waaaaant... and no gift wrapping required.

** p.s. --- GO Bears!!
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Sunday, January 21, 2007

 

-- RTP, R.I.P. --

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The previous post was primarily light humor, but also reflects my curiosity wondering what Roger Tory Peterson, dean of modern birders, would have to say about this heated Ivory-bill debate were he alive today. Diplomat, as well as expert that he was, I've little doubt (though others will disagree) that he would be squarely planted... in the middle, with a hopeful though wait-and-see attitude. He innately understood, moreso than many today, that birds are not static objects, but dynamic individuals, giving rise to unforeseeable possibilities however improbable at first glance. One simply can't always operate off the usual assumptions, and he knew that. Here is the letter he wrote back to Steve Sheridan in the 80's regarding Steve's unorthodox report of seeing Ivory-bills in Indiana (copied from Steve's site) --- a far more improbable claim in those days than many of the current claims being made today:
" I have received your letter and am intrigued. I have received perhaps a dozen letters similar to yours. I think it would be wise to let one of the top birders in your area of (state omitted, mentioned in detail later) know about your sightings and alert them so that your record, if valid, may be confirmed. If the forest is being logged there is scarcely anything that can be done. However, ivory-bills have the potential of moving considerable distances. Because of their special needs ivory-bills seem to be great rovers and not as sedentary as the pileated woodpecker. I am forwarding your letter to the editors of American Birds who can put you in touch with their regional editors for the area."
Notice the even-handedness and open-mindedness of these words; essentials of a REAL scientific attitude, in place of the certitude posed by today's critics where no certitude exists (the Luneau video hasn't even been close to debunked despite what skeptics continue to infer --- I don't even know that anyone else has analyzed it with anything like the thousands of dollars worth of equipment that Cornell has at their disposal).

Moreover, people often seem to relish critiquing and bringing down the 'Establishment,' authorities, experts or 'topdogs.' What else accounts for the glee some have exhibited in their denigration of Cornell the institution, as well as any number of the individuals involved in current claims? Again, I don't think Roger would have any of it; he would want the evidence explored to the fullest extent possible. In diplomacy they say "trust, but verify," and Roger would relate to that. In this debate the issue started off as one of defining what constituted that sufficient verification, but now in some quarters has moved on to sheer distrust, of the competency, motives, and honesty of those involved. This isn't the birding community Roger played such a major role in building.
RTP, R.I.P... maybe it is for the best that you aren't witnessing the current sound and fury.

And on a slightly related note, the April ABA Convention in La. will include a talk by David Sibley entitled "The Psychology of Bird identification" described as follows:
"Bird identification is the central challenge of birding, and we all strive to improve our skills and to identify more birds, more quickly and more accurately. Countless references and tools suggest that the birder who wants to avoid misidentifications should learn more about the fine points of plumage, molt, variation and subspecies, etc. But the fact is that most mistakes involve glitches in perception. No amount of preparation can prevent us from blurting out “Snowy Owl!” when the time is right and we see a white milk jug on the salt-marsh. Our brains, and the very short-cuts that we use successfully (most of the time) to identify birds, are also the source of most misidentifications. This workshop will focus on the psychological aspects of bird identification --- how we subconsciously use pattern-recognition, expectations, suggestion, and other clues -- and how those methods can lead us to misidentify birds with complete confidence. "
Now whadd'ya s'pose brought that on?

(...I'm not saying it isn't a worthwhile topic or that David won't give a good presentation, but just that, depending on the state of the IBWO search at that point, it seems custom-made to fan the flames of debate; might've been nice to have it countered with a talk on the psychology of gestalt perception, and the uncanny ability, overall predominance, and remarkably high accuracy, among experienced birders, of "GISS,"
in bird identification.)
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Saturday, January 20, 2007

 

-- Bumper Sticker ??? --

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-- WWRTPD --

(what would Roger Tory Peterson do)

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

 

-- How Can It Be --

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"Every ant knows the formula of its ant-hill; every bee knows the formula of its beehive. They know it in their own way, not in our way. Only humankind does not know its formula." -- Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Sometimes I wonder how it is that two groups of people can look at essentially the same body of evidence and arrive at such different conclusions. In the Ivory-billed Woodpecker arena we all have access to the same info yet some conclude that the species likely still survives, and others believe with near certitude that it has been extinct for 60 years (and a range of opinions in-betwixt). What is going on here?

Part of the explanation may lie in fundamentally different underlying views of the natural world (this won't apply to all in the debate, but possibly to some). Many people, consciously or not, see humans as the center of the natural world, the kingpin, the apex of creation and complexity, lone masters of Nature. All other lifeforms are, by comparison, little automatons, to be understood, categorized, quantified, and made predictable to the all-knowing human mind. For such folks, the Ivory-bill is just one of those many knowable, predictable, understandable simple forms. We comprehend it and its behavior, because that's what we do as humans, and because, afterall, it's just a 'dumb' creature. Tsk, tsk...

But living things ARE NOT billiard balls or planetary objects easily studied with precision as in physics. The variables involved in biology, are unimaginably complex, innumerable, resistent to precise study or control. They swirl with unseen connections and influences. Some of us thusly see humans, as but one thread in that overall web of life, no more or less central than any other (actually, if all humans perished tomorrow, the Earth would get along swimmingly well; if all bacteria died tomorrow life on this planet would largely perish --- which living form is really more important, or more central, biologically speaking?).
All life is essentially inscrutible; an amoeba or a cicada may be as mysterious and complex, as any human out there; even knowing genetic codes does not get us very far, any more than knowing the alphabet and phonetics of a language yields much insight into the grammar, semantics, richness or complexity of that language. How much difference really would an extraterrestial being, a million years more advanced than us, see between humans and cicadas objectively observing both from afar?

So there is much too much I'm unwilling to presume to know, that others seem to presume they DO know, about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker to reach the conclusions they have reached. I DO know the bird's history is one of being written off prematurely time and time again, by those who thought they knew more than they did.
Until you recognize the Ivory-bill (or any other creature), for the deeply complex form it is, it's easy to be deceived by one's own intellect into quick answers. "A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing," it is said, and also, "those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Of course, one of these times the pessimists are bound to be right, and the Ivory-bill really will be gone. I just don't see any sign we're there yet... and I'm looking at the same data they are, but, looking at it stripped of many of their ever-present human preconceptions.
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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

 

-- Auburn Update --

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New update from Dr. Hill here, with emphasis on the 24-hr. turnaround time they are attempting with acoustic data turned in from automatic recording units in the field; never before accomplished in IBWO searching and hopefully leading to quicker, more efficient stationing of searchers as needed.
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Link

Sunday, January 14, 2007

 

-- What Be The Chances --

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I just checked in with my Las Vegas bookie, Vinnie Boom ('The Shark') O'Bromowitz, this weekend, to get the current odds for various folks getting a conclusive Ivory-bill photo/video this search season, and uhhhh, here's what he tells me:


Geoff Hill -- 6:1
Tyler Hicks -- 7:1
Martjan Lammertink -- 8:1
David Luneau -- 10:1
Jerry Jackson -- 12:1
Bobby Harrison -- 14:1
Tim Gallagher -- 15:1
Brian Rolek -- 16:1
Mike Collins -- 17:1
Van Remsen -- 19:1
John Fitzpatrick -- 21:1
Some guy named "Dunne" -- 23:1
A female -- 25:1
Marty Stauffer -- 500:1
Any teenager with a cell-phone camera -- 799:1
David Sibley -- 800:1
Brad Pitt -- 2100:1
Cheech OR Chong -- 8000:1
Anybody named Jebediah -- 9999:1
Regis Philbin -- million:1
Beyonce -- billion:1
Homer Simpson -- ?????:1
T. Nelson -- googol:1
None of the above (...but someone else) -- 5:1

(Mind you though, Vinnie has been wrong before; he picked Detroit in the World Series last year; what a bozo)
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-- New Mennill Pages --

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Dr. Geoff Hill's collaborator, Dr. Dan Mennill, has started new updates covering his part (bioacoustics) of the Choctawhatchee search here:

http://web2.uwindsor.ca/courses/biology/dmennill/IBWO/IBWO07News.html

and Homepage here:

http://web2.uwindsor.ca/courses/biology/dmennill/IBWO/IBWOindex.php

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Link

Saturday, January 13, 2007

 

-- And This... --

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Just a bit of a diversion (because sometimes a bird story just tugs at me) :

Many of you have heard the recent stories in the U.S. of sudden bird deaths, but you may have missed this far more massive story from Australia of birds falling out of the sky --- a couple of the many possible internet links to the story here:

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,21036489-30417,00.html

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=2789942

For the moment, I would call this an extraordinary event, although a simple (even if disturbing) explanation is likely to come along. Most "extraordinary" events have quite simple explanations, once understood. If the IBWO is confirmed some will call it extraordinary, but 10 years from now when all the data and evidence has been reviewed, in Schopenhauer's words, it will appear "self-evident" that the species was there all along, and folks will wonder aloud, 'WHAT in the world were those skeptics thinking?'.
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-- Covering Old Ground --


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All riiight!, today 3 rants for the price of 1! -- this is all stuff I've covered at some point before, but since the blog is always getting new readers, and these issues come up around the Web, we'll touch on 'em yet again:


-- "Extraordinary" --

If someone says that they spotted an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Brooklyn, NY., hey, I'd call THAT an extraordinary claim, or if they said they had one at their backyard feeder in Miami, Florida, or saw a flock of 25 Ivory-bills while hunting in the woods outside Brinkley, AR.
, or had one land on their shoulder anywhere --- all of those would be "extraordinary" claims. However, claiming to see an Ivory-billed Woodpecker every now and then (a bird known to hang out in dense canopies and tree cavities in remote woods) briefly, in perfectly suitable habitat, that is not frequented by birders much, IS BY NO MEANS an "extraordinary" claim --- interesting, unusual, odd, maybe even improbable, but NO, not "extraordinary." Semantically, it's a sheer and frequent misuse of the term for mere sophistry. However, claiming that a creature is extinct, when 100's of reports of it have been turned in, and all it's potential habitat has never even been thoroughly searched... well now THAT'S an extraordinary claim!!

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-- "Proof" --

A couple days back in a "comment" David Martin talked of how tired he was of hearing the inappropriate word "proof" thrown around in the IBWO debate. AMEN!!! Technically, there IS NO PROOF in science. Even in math all 'proofs' are dependent upon UNprovable assumptions. In science, there are assumptions and evidence, and conclusions based upon perceived probabilities, but whether or not Ivory-bills (or James Tanner, or the planet Earth) have ever existed, let alone do today, can NEVER be PROVEN (there are ALWAYS possible alternative explanations); in the end, we make ultimately subjective judgments of the evidence that lead us to overriding probabilities. For many this seems picayunish word-play, semantic mumbo-jumbo, but it is quite crucial, to get us past this point of continually raised bars of evidence, or evidence that is "definitive," or for that matter evidence that is always viewed from the pre-disposing and circular presumption of Ivory-bill extinction. In some arenas, skeptics are more involved in witch-hunts at this point than they are in any sort of open-minded science, but so be it; they can NEVER "prove" their case, and believers still only need one bird to make their case convincing. Thus, this intense interest in the Ivory-bill is not merely an obsession with a magnificent creature, but is a far broader story of the huge weaknesses of ornithological 'science' --- in fact one thing I and skeptics no doubt agree on is that the Ivory-bill debate is chock-full of poorly-thought-through science; we just disagree on which side has the greater share of it.

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-- Benign Neglect --

Edmund Burke famously said that "all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing." In the case of the Ivory-bill it could be altered to read "all that is necessary for the extinction of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is for birders, conservationists, and ornithologists to do nothing." This species survived the loggers, hunters, collectors of its day, but what it can't survive is inaction and benign neglect from the one group of people who ought to be interested in saving it. Harsh cynicism and skepticism aren't mere attitudes, they have effect on the behavior (or stifled behavior) of others. To the many who are arduously working to find and aid this bird, in whatever capacity they are able (and you know who you are), THANK YOU, THANK YOU, truly THANK YOU, even though your efforts may come 30 years too late for any successful recovery program. But to the hardcore unrelenting naysayers, cynics, and non-believers (and you know who you are too; I'm not talking about agnostics and fence-sitters here), forever sniping at searchers and evidence and hypotheses, offering only snideness, obstructionism, and concocted alternative explanations, in place of encouragement or productive discourse, or even a wait-and-see attitude, the extinction of this species will be on your hands when/if it comes to pass (deny it all you wish, but yes it will). YOU delayed and frustrated and forestalled the actions that were needed. You abandoned the birds prematurely and asked others to do the same. Moreover, YOU have now created the circus atmosphere that will overtake any discovery of the species. And I'm bored of hearing all that armchair scoffing/sniping followed with, "like everyone else, we'll rej
oice if the species IS found" --- it rings pretty hollow (I think it's called CYA). Since when do people "rejoice" at having ignorance/naivete hung out to dry like so much dirty laundry? Or having foolishness magnified for all to see? This tawdry, strung-out episode in failed American ornithology is so shameful I'm not sure myself, at this point, how much rejoicing such a discovery will deserve. But if the photo comes and the party follows, of course I'll be delighted for those who did something positive along the way, had true patience and determination, kept the faith, moved things along, stayed focussed on the science of it all, did the difficult hands-on fieldwork, and realized the importance of the effort being made. In that event, I hope the select mocking cynics that I'm addressing, will puhhh-leeeze stay home, where you can further twiddle your thumbs, and don't weasel your way into a party you had no role in planning --- from your past behavior I'd have to question both your sincerity and motives... and, I do.
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Friday, January 12, 2007

 

-- Mobile Search Team Continues --

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New posts from Cornell's mobile search team, who have left the Congaree and are now in Florida's Apalachicola region, to be followed by a sojourn with Geoff Hill's group along the Choctawhatchee (hmmm....is that a drumroll I hear in the background?):

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory/current0607/MSTtravellog/document_view

Nothing new or startling, but definitely worth a read.
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Thursday, January 11, 2007

 

-- New Blog --

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A Birdforum poster notes a new Ivory-bill blog by one of the on-site Choctawhatchee searchers here:

http://featheredghosts.blogspot.com/

Brand new, but so far, fun, upbeat material...
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-- Texas Update --

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I've had my green tea now, and feeling a tad mellower ; - )

A reader sends in this link to an update on the Texas search:

http://www.gcbo.org/html/ivorybillchronicles5.pdf


As stated previously I'm not as hopeful about either TX. or S.C. (for IBWO presence) as some people are, but it's definitely good to know that such potential areas are getting a serious look-see as part of the overall search plan.
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-- Goood Moooorning, Viet Nam!!! --


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Some things, of course, are more important than the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, including, my country ('tis of thee)... today, a serious non-IBWO-related post:

Yada, yada, yada... Behold, looking like a deer in headlights, Bush has spoken --- if you pay close attention you can sometimes discern exactly when he is lying
to the populace ('Don Rumsfield will stay on the job 'til the end of this Administration') by watching and noting carefully those precise moments when... his lips are moving. The oil-addicted Pretender-and-Chief, waterboy for Dick Cheney, seeks 22,000 additional troops for civil-war-torn Iraq --- oooh, oooooh!, I'll bet those insurgents are just shaking in their boots, now. Not so much new strategy, as new travesty; 4 years later, more of the same. Maaaaaybe 75,000+ additional troops could do the job Bush claims he wants done. But this is another Viet Nam style blip; more young men and women treated like so much paper towel to be wadded up and flicked into the fire; fodder for an enemy more skilled in guerrilla warfare, IEDs, and rope-a-doping America, than we are skilled at conventional warfare. The President, long aloof to the strata of society these sons and daughters are primarily drawn from, has hitched himself tautly to his own blind ego; not so much the Great Decider as the Great Delusionist. We, and our troops, deserve better.

We entered this war, as you recall, with the illustrious strategy of "shock and awe" --- a bombastic sham that, yes, would have scared the s__t out of OUR populace and OUR troops, but was little more than a cruel joke and lightshow for Iraqis jaded to war, terrorism, and brutality... it cost the taxpayer a pretty penny, like every day since, but the only one 'shocked and awed' was our own Defense Dept. at the sheer resiliency of the Iraqis. With further cultural/historical naivete and bravado,
the Administration announced victory after Baghdad's fall, speaking (dreaming???) all-the-while of American occupiers uniformly greeted with flowers, chocolates, and kisses --- more armchair misjudgments and simplemindedness from nattering Neo-conservative nabobs who ironically lacked military experience among themselves or their offspring (in private industry they simply would've been fired, but, no, in this flunkie Administration they were rewarded and profitted handsomely --- expect Rumsfeld to receive the Presidential Medal (bribe) of Honor any month now).

...Now this lame(duck)-excuse-for-a-leader, surmises the Iraq answer is hidden in more troops. Deja vu all over again... Which part of Nam does he not quite remember? So the President, propped up on TV, addresses the American public as the herd of bleating sheep that Karl Rove informs him they are (...well, at least 51% of them).
Some would like to know when Bush's "deep," "sincere" desire for democracy/freedom in the Mideast will translate into toppling that dictatorial regime in Saudi Arabia? (Oh, I forgot, if you lick our toes, you get a free pass.) Oligarchy, corporacracy, and puppet/muppet democracies are the forms of governance Bush respects. And though he won't say it out loud, everyone, including the insurgents, knows THERE IS a timetable to this war --- the 2008 American electoral races --- even with tampered election machines and hidden slush funds Republicans know they will suffer substantial losses at the voting booths if major progress in Iraq (and troop withdrawal) isn't made by then. If Bush is alive and in office in 2008 watch Republican candidates flee from him in Keystone Cops fashion.

As noted by others, our country has never before been so disrespected and distrusted by so many around the globe, including former staunch allies. Even George W. Sr. finds it alarming. In retrospect, and by comparison, our place in the world, as left behind by Bill Clinton, was idyllic.
No doubt Dick Cheney, irate over the dismissal of Donald Rumsfeld, will be looking to consolidate his power and influence over the next 14 months; the Negrapointe re-assignment may be the first sign of this shuffle
. Meanwhile, Colin Powell has stepped tepidly away from the role of 'good soldier' and toward the role of good citizen, by speaking out a bit on what he knows of this Administration's modus operandi. He needs to say more... much more. The country/democracy he loves (at least as it once was), needs to hear from him.

There is NO good ending to the Iraq mess. We are a nation adrift, led by a ship of fools with narrow, sheltered, wealth-beholden interests; possibly the most deceitful, disreputable, preachy, unintelligent, untrustworthy, un-Christian, self-absorbed, money-grubbing, knuckle-dragging group of snake-oil salesmen and muckety-mucks ever to usurp and manipulate the presidency. May Thor help us!... as we try to escape
the downward spiral toward worsening scenarios that careen our way, scrambling for the least bad ending of solely bad options. In 1966, J. William Fulbright published "The Arrogance of Power," and 40 years later his thesis is as fresh as ever. All hail the powers that be..., or,

Send letters, emails, faxes, phone calls... prayers, to anyone of influence (politicians, journalists, diplomats, the military, religious leaders...) who might carry some weight in determining our policy forward in Iraq, to fight Mr. Alfred E. Neuman's ill-begotten mad plans, as he prepares to stretch our already-impaired military even thinner leaving us further vulnerable at home and abroad. Maybe Mr. Bush's Machiavellian handlers can be shocked and awed into some common sense, by an outpouring/uproar of public opinion. The RESTORATION of America's place in the world will be disturbingly, painfully, excruciatingly, slow and grudging, but let it start NOW, and let it start with WE THE PEOPLE speaking up.


(...ohhh, and if you happen to disagree with this post, well then, n-n-n-n-n-nevermind.)

.... some additional reading:

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0109-20.htm

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0105-23.htm

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0105-22.htm


http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0109-24.htm

http://www.commondreams.org/views07/0106-31.htm

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

 

-- Briefly Noted --

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For "Ivory-bill fans," a brief, pertinent note on bark scaling buried in Julie Zickefoose's blogpost today:

http://www.juliezickefoose.com/blog/2007/01/following-moss-muse.html

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

 

-- Or Perhaps Not --

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"Perhaps we can dismiss the photographs that George Lowery presented to the ornithological community. Perhaps we can dismiss the sightings reported by Whitney Eastman. Perhaps we can dismiss the sightings by John Dennis. Perhaps we can explain away the Dennis' tape recordings that were analyzed by Hardy (1975). Maybe there is a miniscule chance that the recording made by Reynard (Reynard and Garrido 1989) isn't an Ivory-bill. Perhaps we can dismiss the response to tape recordings that were heard by Robert Manns, Malcolm Hodges, and myself or the birds heard by Fred Sibley and Ted Davis. But the list goes on and on --- right up to the present. If each of these observations has any probability at all of having been real, these probabilities add up. It is unlikely that all of these reports are misidentifications."

--- Jerome Jackson, reporting to US Fish & Wildlife in 1989 on the likelihood that the Ivory-bill was still extant

Perhaps John Terres, and Agey/Heinzmann, and Garratt, and Kulivan, and Gallagher/Harrison/Cornell, and Hill/Hicks/Rolek, and 100's of others, all got it wrong; each and every one of them.

....and perhaps, the moon is made of green cheese.

Cavities, sightings, 'sound detections,' update:

http://www.auburn.edu/academic/science_math/cosam/departments/
biology/faculty/webpages/hill/ivorybill/Updates.html


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Monday, January 08, 2007

 

-- Tanner Googled --

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As many likely know Google has been in the process of putting entire books online to be freely accessed. About a third of James Tanner's wonderful monograph "The Ivory-billed Woodpecker" is now available (don't know if they'll be adding to that soon or not):

http://books.google.com/books?id=0A7QNfzjnXIC&dq

This is the recent Dover edition available in bookstores < $15 (or, if you prefer, you can always look for an original Tanner monograph to show up on eBay for $500+ ...)
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Link

Friday, January 05, 2007

 

-- One Birder's Experiment --

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One Michigan birder (and fence-sitting IBWO searcher) is conducting his own little field experiment in regards to attaining Ivory-bill documentation, substituting Pileateds as the subject; read about it here:

http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=143309933&blogID=213915643

The habitat being searched is not nearly as large or difficult to access as IBWO habitat, but at least he's making an attempt at some quantification.

Addendum: if you wish to follow his updates, this individual's blog is now at:

http://www.myspace.com/goodbirds

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Link

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

 

-- Coming In February --

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Bobby Harrison's "Ivory-billed Woodpecker Foundation" has announced its "inaugural fund-raising gala" to be held 6:00 pm. Feb. 24 (anniversary of the Sparling sighting) in Huntsville, Alabama (at the ADRS Banquet Facility, 3000 Johnson Rd.). Keynote speakers are Bobby and Tim Gallagher, with Lynn Scarlett (Deputy Sec. of the Interior), Dr. James Tate of the IBWO Recovery Committee, and Mary Scott of BirdingAmerica and IBWO fame, also presenting. Asking for RSVPs by Feb 12, ph. 256-883-1166, and tickets are $35. I imagine all this info will soon be at the Foundation's website:

http://www.ibwfound.org

Correction: the Feb. 24th date is actually closer to the anniversary of the Harrison/Gallagher IBWO sighting than the Sparling sighting which was a couple weeks earlier.
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

 

-- Books, Old & New --

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One of those assisting the Auburn team along the Choctawhatchee this season is a veterinarian out of North Carolina, Dr. Gregory Lewbart. Dr. Lewbart wrote possibly the only novel ever centered around the Ivory-billed Woodpecker back in 1996, well before all the current hoopla, entitled "Ivory Hunters: A Novel of Extinction." The action-adventure story revolves, somewhat presciently, around the discovery of Ivory-bills in the Big Cypress woods area of southern Florida. You can find used copies here on Amazon (and probably through other used book venues on the Web as well).

Amazon also is taking pre-orders for Dr. Hill's forthcoming book, "Ivory-bill Hunters: The Search For Proof In a Flooded Wilderness," on the Auburn find here, though I would urge those who can wait, to purchase it at your local area bookstore when available (Feb/Mar. --- they need your business more than Amazon! the Lewbart book, on-the-other-hand, is probably out-of-print and only available through the Web or occasionally in used bookshops).
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Monday, January 01, 2007

 

-- 1/1/07 --

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"If the world is to be healed through human efforts, I am convinced it will be by ordinary people; people whose love for this life is even greater than their fear. People who can open to the web of life that called us into being, and who can rest in the vitality of that larger body." -- Joanna Macy

"Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished:
If you're alive, it isn't." -- Richard Bach

HAPPY 2007 ALL!! Carry on...

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