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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






Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

-- An Arkansas Post --

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A new post by Joe Neal on the Arkansas bird listserv is worth a gander (and expresses several of my own views), especially as it relates to so many folks getting hung up on a single 4-second video, amidst all the available evidence out there (historical and current):

http://www.surfbirds.com/phorum/read.php?f=66&i=5936&t=5936

Also, worth noting that the latest "Auk" journal (from AOU, April edition) is now out, with a rebuttal to J. Jackson's January IBWO piece, but thus far haven't found it available online.
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Link
Comments:
Here's why everyone is so hung up on the video: It's the centerpiece of Cornell's paper, and Cornell sees an IBWO where most of us see either a Pileated or we're not sure what we see. That doesn't bode well for the glimpses counted as solid sightings, which lack most field marks of the IBWO, especially when you consider the highly unusual number of strangely plumaged/leucistic Pileateds in the area.

Highly credible, well intentioned people are frequently wrong about things, as evidenced by Iraq's "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that most experts, including the intelligence agencies of "dove" nations, seemed so convinced were present, based on "solid evidence."

Had Cornell gotten great looks, I'd be inclined to believe them, but they didn't. And they haven't gotten any photos at all.

I am at least as sure that they didn't see an IBWO in Arkansas as they are sure that they did.

Every time a new, thrilling rumor comes along it ends up fading away. There's a pretty clear pattern here folks.

When Cornell's report for the season comes out, the confidence graph is going to plunge about as steeply as the IBWO population graph did early in the last century.

It's like when you're a kid and you start getting all these clues that Santa doesn't really exist. You hope it isn't true for a while, but eventually you have to admit that it is.
 
Your post is, to be blunt, simply a load of crap. Go read [i]The Grail Bird[/i]. And dragging in the Iraq war is beyond offensive. The video just ain't at the core of Cornell's case, except in the crassest media sense. Multiple sightings by very experienced people are far more significant.
 
If you actually take the time to read the sighting descriptions you'll see that in many of them there was more than one field mark noted. I think observers familiar with Pileated appearance alone could tell if they were seeing a different bird or not.
 
I have to say that I think the first post above is one of the best statements of opinion I've read on the internet regarding the alleged sightings. Bravo!

And as a gentle reminder to the True Believers: NO ONE HAS EXPERIENCE viewing ivory-billed woodpeckers, and nothing is a substitute for personal experience for making correct bird identifications. Study all the field guides on birds as much as you want, but you're bound to make identification mistakes without first-hand experience in the field.

All of the alleged sightings were by people seeing the bird for the first time in their life, and half of the Cornell sightings were by people 100 meters away from a bird in flight. They may have had a lot of experience with pileateds, but what they didn't have was experience with ivory-billeds in flight, and under the circumstances you bet mistakes can be made, and you can bet your bottom dollar mistakes WERE made.
 
But don't you think that someone familiar with Pileated apperance would KNOW that the bird they saw was not a Pileated.

Some of the observers refered to the birds apperance, size, flight style as looking clearly different to them then a Pileateds would.
 
Why would confidence change much after this field season? The people who believe the reports will still believe and Cornell will continue searching in coming seasons. Anyway at the midpoint of this current search season they refered to 6 possible sightings and many very interesting sound recordings, including double raps that closely match those from Latin America that were recorded after playbacks of calls. Why would a bird other than an Ivory bill respond to an Ivory bill call with a double rap?
 
Had Cornell gotten great looks, I'd be inclined to believe them, but they didn't. And they haven't gotten any photos at all.

Cornell got great looks. They got them from Sparling, Gallagher, and Harrison, at least...
 
It's like when you're a kid and you start getting all these clues that Santa doesn't really exist. You hope it isn't true for a while, but eventually you have to admit that it is.

Why do you even bother to read this blog? Dude, get a life. Being a Nelson's Nutter is no way to live.
 
Cornell should release an analysis of Bobby Harrison's video so they have more to go on. Anyway since the bird in his video has a wingbeat rate faster than the Luneau video (10 beats/sec) I find it very unlikely it could have been a Pileated. Pileateds normally have wingbeat rates of LESS than around 5-6.
 
As Richard Prum said, "If these people haven't produced irrefutable evidence by the end of the field season in April, then they will have a lot of explaining to do...."

Cornell better find their ghost bird pretty fast or they'll have a lot of explaining to do!
 
If you actually take the time to read the sighting descriptions you'll see that in many of them there was more than one field mark noted.

I've read the reports. Perhaps you or someone else could make a list of the field marks noted in each of the main Cornell sightings? I'm having a hard time finding anyone who saw the dorsal stripes, for example.

But don't you think that someone familiar with Pileated apperance would KNOW that the bird they saw was not a Pileated.

Obviously, I don't. Jackson and Sibley and Kaufmann are skilled birders who know their Pileateds, don't you think? They see a Pileated in the video, where Cornell sees an IBWO.

Cornell got great looks. They got them from Sparling, Gallagher, and Harrison, at least.

Not true. Sparling didn't get a good enough look to know he saw an IBWO. And take a look at Gallagher and Harrison's sketches. How many field marks do you see on it?

In this clip http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory/multimedia/videos/Q_and_A_ref.mov Gallagher says it was important that Harrison was there or "I may not have mentioned it otherwise". How sure does that make him sound?

Harrison's video is fuzzy and less than one second long. Of course, Harrison "knows" it's an IBWO. Cornell will never publicly analyze that video, for many reasons with the main one being it is likely not an IBWO.
 
Hmmmm well I saw a Connecticut Warbler in the 80s for the first time, on fall migration, and I was pretty sure from the 3 second look that I didn't have a Common Yellowthroat. Someone on the far side of the brambles then had long looks that confirmed my sighting.
Since then I've had a few more in the fall. Despite the < 2 inch difference in length, it was pretty obviously not a Common Yellowthroat. It's not unheard of to id a bird on only a few seconds viewing. An IBWO's wings and flight pattern are different enough from the almost stubby looking Pileated. Glance up at the sky. See mixed vulture flocks.
Is is so hard to pick out the Black Vultures from the Turkey Vultures in a few seconds? And I live at the northern extreme of the BV's range so I don't see them often. The problem with the skeptics screed is that they never doubt their own theories and suppositions. Be skeptical but be also skeptical of what has become ossified thinking. I can believe
without believing all the evidence.
I can look at Mr Collin's evidence and say... he may be onto something here. Maybe somebody should check this out, someone more mobile than myself.
So too you can doubt without believing every theory in Tom Nelson's bible with all due respects to some of his analyses.

Paul Sutera
 
Interesting, Now when I type:
www.ivorybilled.org I get redirected to the Cornell website.
Same for www.ivorybilled.net.

A few weeks back someone claimed evidence was about to appear on this website but on access it showed merely that the name had been "parked".

Naturally we'd all like to make something good out of that but I'm not jumping the gun.

Paul Sutera
 
Whether you believe Cornell or Luneau's video, there are just too many people out there that have seen this bird since the 1940s and have had excellent sightings.

Many of these sightings (often by hunters and fishermen) have describe detailed field marks. Some of these sightings have even included obscure, largely unknown field marks that the observer could not have known without actually having either seen the bird or having examined museum specimens first hand. These obscure field marks are sometimes recorded or described without the observer ever knowing the significance of them.

In some cases, the observers have seen the birds on multiple occasions, but still have not been believed, being told “You have seen a Pileated”. Whether you choose to believe the bird exists or not, the evidence, when looked at as a whole, states the bird is still with us.

When I refer to the evidence, I am not just considering the new 2004 and later data, I am considering the whole big picture including, first and foremost, first-hand detailed sighting reports, photos of varying quality, supporting sign such as scalings and nest cavities, recordings and other data that does not fit the above categories.

I recently had an acquaintance (a hunter) describe a sighting of a large woodpecker to me. This person described a bird that matched an Ivory-bill very closely, despite not knowing what an Ivory-bill was. This person had never heard of the Ivory-billed woodpecker, but they were very familiar with Pileateds and knew what they had seen was definitely not a Pileated. This sighting occurred in April of 2005, in an area that was known pre1930s Ivory-bill habitat. Since Pileated is ruled out and Imperial woodpecker is extremely unlikely, what else does this leave??????
 
Actually in the case of the weapons of mass destruction in pre-war Iraq the observers on the ground, nmaely the UN inspectors did report that ther were no weapons. The administration cjose to disregard their reports. Sounds similar to the people that disregard the reports of IBWOs in Arkansas and elsewhere from observers that saw them.
 
I think the correct Iraq war analogy may be that an institution that appeared to be credible, the Pentagon (Cornell), made a self-serving statement that WMDs (IBWOs) were verified. They then used the media to gain public support and ensure government funding but with time the absence of WMDs (IBWOs) became clear and an investigation of the original evidence showed the institution did not have the “proof” that would justify their initial claims. The previously credible institution then began saying that at least Saddam Hussein was out of power (important habitat had been protected).

In both cases, neither institution appears to be able to find a way to tactfully and gracefully extract itself from the situation they have created.
 
I recently had an acquaintance (a hunter) describe a sighting of a large woodpecker to me. This person described a bird that matched an Ivory-bill very closely, despite not knowing what an Ivory-bill was. This person had never heard of the Ivory-billed woodpecker, but they were very familiar with Pileateds and knew what they had seen was definitely not a Pileated. This sighting occurred in April of 2005, in an area that was known pre1930s Ivory-bill habitat. Since Pileated is ruled out and Imperial woodpecker is extremely unlikely, what else does this leave??????


Just another, very gullible starry-eyed True believer.
 
The video just ain't at the core of Cornell's case, except in the crassest media sense.

To my eye, it looks like out of all the many "sightings" described in the paper, the video takes up about half of the report and supplemental material, and ALL of Cornell's "photos" are from the video. That makes it the core of the paper in the world of science, and that is why Sibley's paper is directed at the video.

To those who believe that Jackson and Sibley accept the eyewitness accounts of Cornell but not the video? I hardly think that's the case. Unsupported "sightings" cannot be properly rebutted, that is why they haven't been addressed in the rebuttal papers.

The "vast wilderness of eastern Arkansas" excuse, with the frequent application of mathematics to "prove" it is unrealistic to expect decent photos, just won't hold up in the long run. You don't have to cover every square inch to know if the bird exists. The bird isn't hiding 24 hours a day in a roost hole. It covers vast distances according to most believers, and if the Bayou DeView is the "travel corridor" it is claimed to be, the bird would have flown near one of the many camo clad volunteers with running video camera in hand by now. Plus, Ivory-bills DO still land, and they DO still feed, and they DO still nest, but only IF they still exist.

Cornell is getting pretty quiet about the "IBWO scaling" in the study area. That's because photos taken by remote camera's have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the scaling is being done by Pileated woodpeckers.

People: the photos, actual photos that show identifiable birds, show Pileated woodpeckers; leucistic, aberrant or normal, 100% of the time.
 
In this clip http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory/multimedia/videos/Q_and_A_ref.mov Gallagher says it was important that Harrison was there or "I may not have mentioned it otherwise". How sure does that make him sound?

I just watched Gallagher's presentation again and I didn't hear the quote you provided. Nor have I ever seen any doubt from either Gallagher or Harrison about what they saw.

However, they both were aware of the past treatment of those who claimed to seenthe bird without having crystal clear photographic evidence.
 
Here's the full URL to the Gallagher quote, (the software chopped it off the first time I posted it.) This video won't come up at all for me now.

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory/

multimedia/videos/Q_and_A_ref.mov
 
Here's the full URL to the Gallagher quote ...

Whatever the quote is, it's probably been misunderstood. I've seen and read plenty of descriptions of this sighting, and he's 100% certain it was an IBWO.

In his AOU address, Fitzpatrick has a chart of all the field marks Sparling saw, including behavior and a description of the bird's crest and how it differed from PIWO.

You can say these guys are lying or mistaken or whatever if you want, but you can't claim that they're unsure of what they saw or that their sightings were too fleeting to ID the bird.
 
you can't claim that they're unsure of what they saw

I think Gallagher and Harrison and Sparling are quite sure in their own minds, NOW. The most dependable impressions of what a person has seen are the ones made immediately, before reflection or before talking to other people. Sparling wasn't sure what he saw at the time he saw it. Luneau (and brother?) in the canoe didn't know they had seen an IBWO, even though they saw it fly away.

From The Grail Bird: After a long talk with Gene, Bobby told him "It sounds to me like you've seen an ivory-billed woodpecker."
"You think so?" said Gene. "I don't have enough confidence to make that call, but I'm glad to hear you say that"...

"I was annoyed that so many people were throwing out percentages about how sure they were that they had seen an ivory-bill. Ron and David were maybe 85 percent sure; Jim Fitzpatrick was 98.5 percent sure; now here was Mindy saying she was 99 percent sure of her sighting."



In response to: ...or that their sightings were too fleeting to ID the bird.

I can and do make the claim that every single Cornell sighting was too fleeting to make a positive ID.

I've been looking for another quote, without success. I believe it was George Lowery who suggested the following should be included in a report of a sighting for it to be worthy of a follow-up:

White secondaries,
Kent Calls,
Dorsal Stripes
"Ivory" Bill

Anyone else know the source of this standard?
 
"You think so?" said Gene. "I don't have enough confidence to make that call, but I'm glad to hear you say that"...

Sparling is not a birder, and he had always thought the IBWO was extinct. That's why he was initially unsure. Not because he didn't get a good look at it.

His observations are listed about a 1/4 way through Fitzpatrick's AOU talk
 
Posted by Anon.
Just another, very gullible starry-eyed True believer

reply by 70Ivorybill78
True believer - yes, gullible - no. If you have any questions regarding my position on the Ivory-bill, refer to my website at www.sheridanzoo.com/ivorybill.htm

I can personally guarantee the bird existed up until 1978, and there is nothing “starry-eyed” about that.
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Posted by Anon.

People: the photos, actual photos that show identifiable birds, show Pileated woodpeckers; leucistic, aberrant or normal, 100% of the time

reply by 70Ivorybill78
My following opinions (I acknowledge I could be wrong) of the Luneau video is that it is an Ivorybill. I base this not on what others say, but on my first hand frame by frame examination of the Luneau video. More so than the flying bird, I find the perched bird very compelling. I no not believe that perched bird is consistent with a Pileated with outstretched wings. I am open minded to other opinions on this, the above is just my personal opinion from first hand examination.
 
The IBWO is as extinct as the Dodo.

There..I said it. Get over it, people.
 
Anonymous said...
The IBWO is as extinct as the Dodo.

There..I said it. Get over it, people.
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Please supply proof for your opinion? My eyes and ears are open.
 
You, 70Ivorybill78, are proof enough that the IBWO is extinct.

You are the "bigfoot" seeker of the bird world; the "WMD" searcher of the IBWO world.

Like Bush, you will never concede your thin perch over the abyss of stupidity.

It's just that simple.
 
Anonymous said...
You, 70Ivorybill78, are proof enough that the IBWO is extinct.

You are the "bigfoot" seeker of the bird world; the "WMD" searcher of the IBWO world.

Like Bush, you will never concede your thin perch over the abyss of stupidity.

It's just that simple

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To which 70Ivorybill78 replies

Your views and words show your true nature and speak for themselves. I have given you opportunity to discuss your views in a logical manner, despite this, you have chosen to fling muck.

"You, 70Ivorybill78, are proof enough that the IBWO is extinct."
A statment like this simply is not worthy of a reply. The Iraq war analogy is also rather tiring and off subject.

My conversation with you is at an end.
 
Listen, if you believe that the IBWO still exists. Then you believe in something so fantastical that you should never give up. You are what we call a "true believer". You should and can never ever give up.

You are like a neo-con. You believe because you believe. Please, never give up on that. Keep fighting your cause.
 
Yes, I agree. You are wrong. But don't let that stop you.
 
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