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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






Saturday, February 28, 2009

 

-- Birding Comedy Relief --

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Time for some weekend comic-relief, if you haven't already viewed this piece from first-time birder Conan O'Brien:




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Friday, February 27, 2009

 

-- True Believers --

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This blog peaked at 700+ readers/day for a couple weeks back following the original Auburn Choctawhatchee announcement. Ever since then it gradually but steadily declined until stabilizing around 100+ unique hits per day, where it has remained for quite some time now. It's not the exact same folks every day since some readers only check in every few days or even once a week. Maybe 130 people from around the globe read the blog on some sort of regular basis out of millions of active birders worldwide; i.e. a very tiny percentage of the potential audience.

I suspect many of those 130-or-so folks are 'agnostics' who still aren't sure what to conclude about the IBWO, and an even larger number are likely full-fledged skeptics just checking in to keep up with what 'foolishness' is recited here. In short, I'd guess less than 100 folks check here routinely and loyally who would be comfortable with the label "true believer" (or even leaning in that direction). Again, out of millions of birders, a few score of them willing to unabashedly believe in the Ivory-bill's persistence; too few people to have much impact, as has always been the case through the Ivory-bill's history.

Early on I didn't much care for the term "true believer" with its implication of believing blindly, foolishly, or unscientifically, especially since in most areas of science I'd probably be classified as excessively skeptical; but over time, in this narrow IBWO arena, I've grown comfortable with the 'true believer' handle, because every time I re-read the data and history of this species... the full panoply of it, not just some myopic portion... my conviction is renewed that the probability for the Ivory-bill's existence exceeds the probability for its extinction (and I can only approach science in terms of probabilities).
So I'm content to see this story through to the end (whenever and however that comes about), and happy to be part of a narrow 100 or fewer individuals who may eventually feel richly rewarded... or, be robustly ridiculed... for having been, when all around them were capitulating to a tempting party line..."true believers."
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

 

-- "a drop in the bucket" --

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When a $50,000 reward was offered in Arkansas for photographic evidence of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker that led researchers to a live bird, it was not entirely clear if that reward applied only to the state of Arkansas or to any state wherein the species was documented (which certainly made more sense). This article in a South Carolina paper implies the latter is indeed the case.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

 

-- Of Birds and Basketball --

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An occasional sighting claim here, an auditory encounter there, and the usual paucity of updates from Cornell or the USFW 8-[ ... This search season is proceeding much like the previous three. With even fewer searchers in the field, fewer acres being covered, and fewer remote cameras in operation, it's difficult to imagine that the next two months will pull off what the last three years have failed at... indisputable photographic or video evidence for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (though several states are still involved and one would like to believe that the search is a bit more honed and focused than before). We await a 'buzzer-beater.'

Several key skeptics of the past seem to have dropped from the radar at the very time one might expect them to be taking parting shots; their silence is deafening, or is it all just too boring and tiresome for them by now; the essential arguments in this debate, afterall, have changed little in the last 60 years, let alone the last three.
Should the season end with no more to show than prior search years, it will be left to the few independent searchers out there, with limited time and funds, to continue the quest, including Bobby Harrison's Ivory-billed Woodpecker Foundation --- if you wish to receive their email newsletter send them an email requesting such at: ivorybillwp@aol.com

2+ months to go... including what U.S. basketball fans know all-too-well as March Madness. . . .
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Thursday, February 19, 2009

 

-- A Bird In the Hand... --

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I wasn't going to mention the story of the "extinct" Worcester's buttonquail being found... and eaten (it's whirling around the Web well enough without an assist from me), but now John over at DC Birding Blog has reported it with a wonderful coupling to, and old quote about, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker that I have to link to.
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-- IBWO Researchers Forum --

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Those who assiduously follow all-things-Ivorybill likely already know that one of the recent topics of discussion over at IBWO Researchers Forum has been potential drumming (or tapping) patterns for the Ivory-bill possibly heard in the field by searchers or recorded in Cornell's original (and only confirmed) soundtrack of Ivory-bills from the Singer Tract (1930s), available here:

http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio.do?id=6784


Bill Pulliam weighs in with his thoughts on the matter here.

I'm all for pursuing all leads and forms of analysis. My only precaution being that the Cornell recording represents a single example from a miniscule sample of birds at one isolated location 70 years ago, and I'm not willing to assume that the tape is NECESSARILY technically representative of remnant birds left today in other parts of the country, separated by several generations from the birds recorded... BUT, that tape is all we got, so of course, by all means use it (and I think there is reason to believe that rapping or drumming patterns would change less over time than "kent" sounds might... still, very small sampling size). So have at it.

The other focus of attention lately over at the IBWO Forum has been a recent possible (brief) sighting claim for 2 Ivorybills in the Congaree (S.C.) by one of the independent searchers there. The Cornell search team is scheduled to be in S.C. in mid-March anyway; we'll see if the latest claim gets them there any sooner. S.C. remains near the top of everyone's list for best potential IBWO habitat in the entire Southeast; whether there are birds there to utilize it, time will tell.
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Sunday, February 15, 2009

 

-- ....And Waiting --

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Auburn's Dr. Hill has updated his site to re-summarize the 2008 Choctawhatchee season, and bring folks up-to-date on current activities, while continuing to express optimism that their new vibration-detection cameras stand a greater chance of capturing an IBWO on film than previous remote cameras (subject to various failures) did.

So far as I can tell there have been no plans to re-deploy the ACONE cameras in the Bayou de View area of Arkansas for this search season, since they were last taken down (they suffered from mechanical breakdowns and from difficult accessibility during flooded times). If someone knows otherwise please let us know. (Some automatic Reconyx cameras are still in use there.)
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Monday, February 09, 2009

 

-- While We're Waiting --

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In the event you've got way too much free time on your hands ;-) :

Bill Pulliam has pulled together for easy accessibility his various analyses of the original Luneau video in a recent post here:

http://bbill.blogspot.com/2009/02/summary-of-my-luneau-postings.html

For opposing points of view:

Louis Bevier's original analysis of the matter is still up below (...so I guess he hasn't changed his mind yet ;-)) :

http://web.mac.com/lrbevier/ivorybilled/Identification.html (several pages)

And Martin Collinson's study of the matter as published in an open access journal is here:

http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1741-7007-5-8.pdf

What I stiiiiiiiiill have not seen anywhere are the conclusions of an extensive analysis Cornell did on a computer-generated, digitized Ivory-billed Woodpecker in flight, to see how it would match up against the pixels of the bird in Luneau's video. If anyone can fill in the results of that analysis, I'd appreciate hearing of it.
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Saturday, February 07, 2009

 

-- Jackson Speaking --

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Dr. Jerome Jackson will be leading off the Conservancy of Southwest Florida (Naples, FL.) speaker series next Thur. (Feb 12, 6 pm.) on the topic, "In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker" --- same as title of his book on same topic. Jackson is a professor at nearby Florida Gulf Coast University, and of course is one of the most longstanding experts on the species. I suspect he'll have some comments on the current search for the IBWO in southwest Florida. Talk is "free to members"... not clear to me if non-members are able to attend for a fee or not (or you can pay $35 to join).
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Thursday, February 05, 2009

 

-- Computer Reading --

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Parts of some Ivory-bill related books available online at Google Books site:

"In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker" by Jerome Jackson

"Wild Echoes" by Charles Bergman (Ivory-bill material beginning on pg. 220)

and material from Christopher Cokinos' "Hope Is the Thing With Feathers"

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

 

-- Misc. --

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Mike Collins is back in the Pearl for another ongoing search season.

Mary Scott has reposted a small portion of her former BirdingAmerica site here.

And in the "I-get-email" Dept. a reader sends along this link to a YouTube video, just in case you're in the need to see something depressing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxM5falj_WI&feature=bz302
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