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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

Monday, November 07, 2005


Ivory-bill vs. Pileated Groove Size Study

This quite fascinating post from Steve Holzman appeared today on BirdForum. Steve and Paul Sykes (I assume this is the rather long-time IBWO skeptic 'Paul Sykes'?) have been conducting a study of any perceivable, measureable differences in Pileated and Ivory-bill bark scaling signs (
I've always been a bit skeptical of these possible differences, but this certainly sounds intriguing/hopeful) :

"We presented a poster at the Large Woodpecker Symposium in Brinkley, AR last week. I think after we do the statistics we'll put a paper together. For those unfamilar with the project, we found some grooves on bark-scaled trees in Arkansas that were above 3.8 mm in width. After looking throughout many southeastern states we found similar sign (likely Pileated Woodpecker (PIWO) work) and measured those grooves. We then measured hundreds of bills of both Ivory-billed (IBWO) and PIWO in museum collections. The grooves outside of AR coincided nicely with PIWO bills and the AR grooves coincided nicely with IBWO bills. While you couldn't say a particular tree was scaled by Pileated or IBWO just by looking at it, there does seem to be a groove width difference. Preliminary work suggests that Pileated's can't make a groove larger than 3.5 (and more are below 3.1 mm). This is a work in progress, but it does show some promise in identifying woodpecker species by examination of foraging sign. We also were able to measure the grooves on the inside of IBWO cavities in museum collections (only 4 cavities are in existence as far as we know). These also coincided with the AR grooves."


I would say "long-time Ivory-bill searcher Paul Sykes". He's not as skeptical as you might think...just very cautious after a lifetime of following up potential sightings.

-Steve H.
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