"....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.”
"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
Monday, April 11, 2011
-- Another Testimonial --
Speaking of Arthur Allen, one of the responses I got when I asked for people's memories of what drew them to the Ivory-bill story decades ago, came from Chris Feeney of Georgia, who credited Allen with spurring his childhood interest. Chris's account ran as follows:
"I have had an interest in the Ivory-billed Woodpecker since I was eight years old. My grandmother along with my aunt got me interested in birds. I spent every summer on my grandparents farm near Indiana, Pennsylvania. In 1954 my grandmother got a copy of "Stalking Birds with Color Camera" by Arthur A. Allen. I looked at all the color photos, but the bird that drew my attention more than any other was the black and white photo of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. My grandmother also had the National Geographic books that had the account of Allen's visit to the Singer Tract and his teams subsequent location of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker nest. When we visited the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, the Ivory-billed specimens were always the highlight.------------------------------------------------------------------------
In 1958 my grandmother and a friend decided to take a trip around the country while they were still able to travel. My grandfather had passed away, and my grandmother wanted to visit some of the great National Parks again. I went along. Even though it was a "tourist" trip, bird watching was a priority. We stopped at a number of places with museums. One of these was in Hastings, Nebraska. I was very surprised to see a display with several Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. After a journey that took us all the way to British Columbia and down the coast to California, we stopped at the Grassy Lake Hunt Club near Hope, Arkansas on the way home. This spot was in "A Guide to Bird Finding" by Olin S. Pettingill, Jr. We checked in with the caretaker's wife, and birded the area for a bit. I got my life Anhinga there, so I was excited. It was a very hot day. The caretaker's wife invited us in for some lemonade. She got us our drinks, and then pulled out Chester A. Reed's bird guide. She turned to the page that had the Pileated Woodpecker and said "We have these all around". I would have loved to see one, as it also would have been a life bird. Then she turned a few more pages and showed us the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. I was stunned when she said "You know, we have had a few of these here as well". She clearly knew the difference.
I have been chasing the Ivory-bill off and on since then. I was not able to go to Texas in the 1960's to look for the birds in Big Thicket, as I was in school in California at the time. However, I wrote all the experts at the time for information on the Ivory-bill. I have letters from Dr. James Tanner, Dr. George Lowery, Mr. Whitney Eastman (who sent me a copy of his article "My 10 Year Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker", and also Mr. John Dennis. I corresponded with Mr. Dennis in the 1980's when the Ivory-bill was reported in the Atchafalaya Basin. He got me linked up with a person who worked at LSU and knew the locals in the area. With his help I was able to spend 9 days looking for the Ivory-bill, and also got to examine the Ivory-bill specimens in the LSU collection.
Since the Arkansas sightings I have spent field time in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida searching. I feel strongly I have heard the bird in both Arkansas and Florida (calls, no double knocks). No good sightings though, but I keep looking.
It all started with the photo on page 2 of 'Stalking Birds with Color Camera'."