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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.

Web ivorybills.blogspot.com

"....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

Saturday, March 18, 2006


-- One More Time...(yaaawn) --

I'll apologize in advance to those who are bored with this topic and line-of-argument; had hoped not to deal with it again, but with the widespread press/comment the Sibley piece is getting find the Luneau video must be addressed yet again: The 4-second clip has been ambiguous from the start -- as stated previously I'm not even certain that the bird in question must be a woodpecker (which stems only from the assumption that the bird is perched on the side of a tree trunk at the start -- likely so, but not absolutely demonstrated). BUT, probablistically, the bird IS a woodpecker, in which case there are, probablistically, only 2 choices, and I am swayed, not by the visual evidence, but by the size and wingbeat analysis that, probablistically, it is an IBWO -- but it is almost certainly UNresolvable and alternative interpretations are feasible. The point is that the bird on the video could be a muscovy duck for all I care! it is just one shred of the evidence and one must consider the totality of evidence both in Arkansas and across 5 decades.
The Arkansas claim was exciting to many of us because we specifically DIDN'T believe the Ivory-bill was in that state. We believed it is in Fla., Miss., La. and possibly Tx. or S.C. The Ar. find opened the door to all kinds of possibilities of a more northerly range and a larger population -- if the bird is never found in Ar. (I still think it will be in time) it does nothing to change the original history and likely range of the species (and thankfully other searches are ongoing).

Now... if your child is kidnapped and after a month the police come to you and say 'sorry we can't expend any more resources on this case, we have other matters to attend to; the fact is that if a child isn't found in the first 48 hrs. they are almost certainly dead,' do you then reply, 'Yeah, I guess I'll just get on with my life now and not waste any more time, thanks for trying.' OF COURSE NOT!, you keep searching, following every possible lead, until the child is found or you have a corpse -- we are in a similar situation, except our concern is not a lone individual but an entire species here. Some will say that 60 years in the life of a species is more than 30 days in the life of a child -- it ISN'T, especially given the habitat in question and repeated claims over time. For some of us the IBWO is a lost child that was prematurely abandoned, and just maybe we can yet rectify our prior inaction and resignation. THAT is the error we must NOT risk making again, and that is why the validitiy or invaliditiy of a single unresolvable 4-second video clip is simply not significant in the grand scheme of things.

So little about the audio evidence.
The kent calls I mean. Other than
from skeptics who want to claim that the Blue Jay has mythical capabilities to mimic almost any sound and that the paired
Kent notes from the ARU could belong to the silver-tongued Blue-Jay, that master of deception.
Now I hear there are 20 new recordings from this year.
While not conclusive, the Kent calls from last year were certainly
intriguing. And let's be fair and
realize that the Luneau bird was
first spotted by observers who probably had seen a fair number
of Pileateds already. The sightings are with 3-D human vision
though the video is merely 2D.
The skeptics are having a minifest
over Sibley's article. And doing a bit of post-censoring too.
Yet I don't think Sibley has created a huge tidal wave conversion to skepticism. Their cynical glee makes me wonder about
some kind of perverse joy in proving multi-degree'd Ivy Leaguers
wrong. Oh well Luneau is a stalemate, I'm going 3d myself this
fine Saturday!

Paul Sutera - (only a "7 sisters" grad myself) :-)
Now... if your child is kidnapped...

You insult real parents and real conservationists alike and should be ashamed. That you do so with a faux "yawn" makes it all the more reprehensible.

Bad and blurry analogies shouldn't be use to defend bad and blurry observations and video.
I agree that searches should continue throughout the historical range of IBWO, but at what point do we declare that we "found the corpse"?

On to another topic -- a question for Paul S.: Paul, you seem to be one of the few (only?) people that started off a skeptic and then shifted to the believer side. Is that a correct characterization, and if so, why did you make the shift?

I am truly sorry for anyone offended by that particular analogy... in fact I had hesitated using it for a long time, not certain about peoples' sensibilities. The point of course is that I wanted an analogy that all could immediately relate to which conveyed the notion that in various circumstances one is willing to commit a smaller error in order to bend over backwards avoiding a greater error (statisticians out there can think in terms of 'type 1' and 'type 2' errors).
But for anyone offended, or certainly anyone who has in any way been associated with such a grotesque act as child abduction, I sincerely apologize for the possible bad taste,
and appreciate your admonition. It was intended only as a form of argument, not as an emotional comparison.

No need to apologize because I understood what your message was all about.

I am a parent of two young kids and I doubt Anonymous who criticized you on your analogy has kids and has more issues with your stance on the woodpecker vs. the analogy you used.
I am a parent of two young kids and I doubt Anonymous who criticized you on your analogy has kids...

Actually, Mike, I do have kids and thanks very much for the apology, Cyberthrush. I was mainly concerned about, what I saw to be emotional hyperbole. It is also true that the people who are most extreme about issues like this (the IBWO) probably have the least going on in their personal lives. And I urge everyone to go out and put the "recreation" back in recreational birding.
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