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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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Monday, November 28, 2005

 

-- A Truly Incredible AR. Finding! --

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Snowy Owls are one of my mostest favoritest grandest birds in the whole entire world so felt compelled to pass along this post which appeared today on the AR. birding listserv:
"I was just e-mailed a picture of a bird from the local weekly paper, Heber Springs Sun Times, to identify for them.Yes, no kidding, it was a Snowy Owl. Details are sketchy so far but it was apparently taken this past weekend north of Quitman along Hwy. 356 in Cleburne Co.The landowner said the bird appeared to be injured so he captured it and apparently turned it over to the AG&FC. Of course more info is needed to know if this truly a wild bird and a bonafide occurence but what other records are there for Arkansas ?"

Apparently (according to another poster) there are only 4 records of Snowys in AR., and those occurred between 1946 and 1955 -- I'm guessin' there have been a whole lot more Ivory-bills than Snowys in the state both before and since then!!
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Comments:
Wow, and they got a PHOTO of it! A bird that rare!!
 
it is amazing that they can get
a photo of a very rare snowy owl...but not an ivory bill...hmmmmm
 
The Snowy Owl post of course was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek jibe on a slow news day, and I'll assume the above responses are the same (fair is fair). But in the unlikely event that the posters actually think they are making a good argument, I'll just say RE-READ the post -- this is an INJURED, CAPTIVE owl; not too hard to get a photo of that -- and if the photo was taken prior to capture, well even wild, uninjured Snowys are known for sitting calmly out in wide open space posing for pics, not exactly the same as deep, dense swampland.
 
Why was it so easy to find and photograph/video tape ivory bills in the Singer Tract in the 1930s when there were only estimated to be 24 birds left? It took them one week...not over a year...to find them. In addition, it has been said that for the ivorybill to survive 60+ years... there probably has to be 20-30 birds left for a viable breeding population...similar to the 1930s.
They were hunted mercilessly then and they still proved rather unwary. Now they are so wary?

I believe one of two things is going on, the latter is what I prefer...

either...

1) there are no ivorybills...none.
wishful thinking.

OR...hopefully....

2) They DO have conclusive evidence in a video or photo and are withholding it. They don't want to release this kind of evidence until they have a solid conservation plan in place...census study and heavily regulated birding and duck hunting policies in place before hand.
The world will not see this conclusive evidence until they are sure all of the above safeguards are in place. Hence, they gave the world just bits and pieces of small tantalizing inconclusive evidence. That may prove smart if the birds do exist...which I really hope for.
 
geeee... I wonder who 'anonymous' could be??? anyway, hate going over and over and over the same old arguments, but guess I must -- the 30's searchers were virtually led by the nose to Ivory-bills by an excellent guide who knew the birds and territory well -- I could be mistaken, but I believe virtually every photo they took was at or near a roost/nest hole; not hard to get photos if you can find one of those, but there has been no comparable guide since the 30's to lead searchers to one. Most people in the last 60 yrs. who have looked for or accidentally stumbled upon IBWOs probably didn't even have cameras (especially quality cameras) with them, or if they did, maneuvering a 200-400 mm. lens into place on the spur of the moment, is not always an easy thing (only relatively recently have quality compact cameras been available). This whole argument about 60 yrs. without a photo is simply silly -- no Takahes (as big as an IBWO) were photographed on the huge vast impenetrable territory of New Zealand for a century until a COUPLE HUNDRED were found in the mountains roaming around; wonder how they got missed???
There are decent arguments that can be made against IBWO survival(wrong-headed, I think, but logically decent), but THIS AIN'T one of 'em!
And as for Tanner's estimate of IBWO population in the 30's, it's based on simple math from VERY limited data, limited searching, and limited conclusions, and there's no reason to assume it accurate (one man couldn't even do a good job today searching the entire south, with GOOD roads, GOOD vehicles, and much more LIMITED habitat to explore -- certainly Tanner didn't accomplish that on his own 60+ yrs. ago).
 
do you think the assertion in number 2) above is possible?
Are they withholding key evidence
until they are sure they can
protect the bird. I can't imagine
The Lab of Ornithology would put their reputation on the line if
they really haven't any conslusive photos yet. they must firmly believe the bird is out there...agree?
 
No, I don't believe #2 is at all likely (...but I have no more inside knowledge on this than you) -- I do think they have further evidence, 'bits and pieces,' as you say, but nothing conclusive prior now underway. I think it is possible that if/when they get such evidence it will not necessarily be publicly released quickly (could be months), although with so many folks now involved leaks to the internet could force early release. Personally, I would hope (and expect) if an active nesthole is found, most, if not all, info be withheld through the breeding season.
I think their seeming certainty over the find is based on the quality/number/credibility of the observers and their reading of the Luneau video.
 
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