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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






Friday, May 19, 2006

 

-- Perspective --

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Thus far less than 15% of the Big Woods region has been much explored by IBWO searchers; although the Bayou de View area does not appear to hold IBWOs, the White River area (which many believed all along held the best habitat) has not been as thoroughly combed, and other areas have been untouched.
Before 2004, Arkansas wasn't even on many IBWO searchers' radar as a likely place to harbor the species. Both then and now Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, held the greatest hope for numbers of Ivory-bills, with Texas and S. Carolina not far behind, and Georgia, Alabama, and some other areas still having possibilities. The significance of the AR. sightings for me was NOT what it said about IBWO existence, but what it potentially said about the NUMBERS that might still persist. On that score I am once again somewhat pessimistic, but not on the issue of existence.
Despite discouragement at Cornell's search results it is vital to keep things in perspective, especially since 3 issues/questions continually get muddled together unnecessarily in this whole affair:

1) Do Ivory-bills still survive in America?
2) Do Ivory-bills exist in the Big Woods of Arkansas?
3) Is the bird in the Luneau film clip an Ivory-bill?

If the answer to #3 is "Yes" than obviously the answer to all 3 questions is 'yes,' but unfortunately too many people seem to assume that if the answer is 'no' than the answers to #1 and #2 are also 'no,' when in fact a 'no' answer says NOTHING about those (more important) questions. (Similarly, if the answer to #1 is 'no' than the other 2 questions are automatically also 'no,' but if the answer is 'yes' it says nothing about the answers to the other 2.)
In short, the best we can say for now from Cornell's results is that there is likely no current population of Ivory-bills residing in the Bayou de View area of Arkansas, but in all truth, we can't go far beyond that, though skeptics will continue to simplify matters by choosing to do so. Overgeneralization is a constant bugaboo in biological study. The leap from no Ivory-bills in a section of the Big Woods of Arkansas to 'Ivory-bills are extinct' is quite simply... a leap of faith, not of science.
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