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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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Thursday, December 15, 2005

 

-- Another Idea... --

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As many of you know helicopters and small planes have often been used in the past to search for Ivory-bills by flying over large land tracts and watching for the birds to flush out of the forest canopy (in theory, viewing their size, shape, color pattern from overhead should make them easier to ID than spying from ground level) -- the counter possibility is that overhead airplane noise may cause the birds to hunker down and be less mobile. Anyway, a poster on the Arkansas bird listserve today offers a different approach I've not heard proposed before:
"Has anyone considered using hot air balloons in the search for IBWO's? Seems like it would be more effective than helicopters which were used in Louisiana. One could quietly drift over the Big Woods at low elevation covering a lot of ground. Cameras could be mounted on the bottom of the basket for constant filming as one drifted. When something flushed below it would be caught on film. Of course the winds would have to be just right to take you in the direction you want to go. Also, the balloon could be colored the same as the sky (blue for clear days, white for cloudy) to help camouflage it. Balloons could also be used as stationary observation posts that could be moved around to different places and raised and lowered to give the best view of an area. This would make an incredible observation platform as the balloon would be tethered to the ground and raised and lowered as needed."

I don't know enough about hot air ballooning to know if this is as practical, safe, or easy as it sounds, but seemed like an interesting thought.

Follow-up: David Luneau has responded with this note:
"Hot air balloons have been discussed as have ultralight aircraft. Some
ultralights may be used to fly some transects. (They are the ultralights
from the Whooping Crane migration.) With hot air balloons not only are you
at the mercy of the wind, but they are not as quiet for the operator as they
would seem. The periodic fiery blasts are quite noisy.
A helium balloon might be a good idea. Does anyone still fly them (besides
the big ones used by Goodyear, Fuji, etc.)?"

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