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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






Tuesday, October 19, 2010

 

-- Herbert Stoddard Tale --

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In case any reader out there can, by chance, flesh this story out any further....

Responding to yesterday's post, a reader initially emailed me a story I'd never heard before about wildlife biologist Herbert Stoddard (who had several well-known IBWO encounters in Georgia through the 50's):

"Your story today on Dr. Terres brought to mind some mention about Herbert Stoddard’s statement, near his death, that he knew of an IBWO nest but had never revealed it for the sake of the birds. I cannot locate this passage in the several books I have on the subject. I am not confusing it with his pretty well known sightings that are often listed as credible accounts, but maybe I am just wrong. Have you ever read about this?"
 A few hours later the same emailer had sorted out this additional info:
 "...I just ran across the reference, and I will clear up my somewhat inaccurate memory.  In Peter Matthiessen's Wildlife In America, 1959, he states '...though Herbert Stoddard, the quail authority, is said to know of a last pair or two somewhere not far from his home in Thomasville, Georgia.  For obvious reasons, not excluding an invasion of well-intentioned naturalists, Stoddard will not disclose its whereabouts; quite possibly he is the only man who will ever hear again the ivory-bills loud, wild cry...'
 Unless I did in fact read something else printed after his death in 1970, this may be the only reference I based my memory on..."
 I've never read Stoddard's memoirs, "Memoirs of a Naturalist," which were published in 1969, a year before his death, so don't know if they add any further clarification to this. If any reader knows more about the story (and can cite a source or give your credentials) please let us know, although I'm doubtful that Stoddard ever specifically claimed to know the location of a nest... but, would love to learn something new! (it is known that he believed he knew areas where the birds were present).

(Email me privately if you don't wish to be involved in the 'comments' section.)
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Comments:
Jackson quotes Stoddard's 1969 memoir thus: ". . .observed three ivory-bills in the Southeast in the last fifteen years" and that "I feel quite confident that the ivory-bill still has a chance to survive."
 
Cruishank and Grimes, of high reputation, also had '50s sightings.

On Stoddard----His 3 later sightings are as follows:

I have a photocopy of a hand written note in my files that says

H. Stoddard observed 2 female Ivory-billeds feeding in beetle, killed pines in southern
Georgia in the 1950s.

His other observation is in numerous sources and was unfortunately from a plane which gave some precedent for those ill thought out, recent plane searches.

In the Altamaha River Basin, Georgia, 1958
Observer: Ornithologist and forest ecologist Herbert Stoddard, who devoted the final years of his life to a study of bird kills at a north Florida television tower. Notable: Stoddard reported seeing the bird from a distance of 50 yards while he was flying in a small plane.

Eastman also had good sightings and several others in the '50s.

Fred V
 
To my knowledge Stoddard never claimed to have seen a nest. Even in his youth, in the 1890's, he saw ivory-bills infrequently, and as far as I know never claimed to have seen a nest. His encounter near Thomasville (around 1958) was reported to have been with a pair but this is the first I have heard mention of a nest. In any case, Stoddard was quite familiar with the bird from his youth, and in my mind reports such as his and Terres' firmly falsify the notion that the bird disappeared in the 1940's.
 
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