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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, September 28, 2006

 

-- Are We Having Fun Yet!? --


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Here we go again... the bashing of the Florida Ivory-bill sightings and sighters is under full-swing from the Ivory-bills-are-extinct-because-we-say-so crowd. It is clear that until photographic evidence is obtained other forms of evidence for the existence of Ivory-bills are virtually a moot point in many quarters at this point. This is a horrible state-of-affairs (given again that it is based on an unsupported presumption of the bird's extinction), but it forces the hand of all those doing searches --- effort that might better be expended in other ways and study, must now be concentrated on attaining the demanded photographic evidence, before other progress can follow. With that in mind, just a few suggestions regarding the forthcoming Florida winter search:

1. whenever possible searchers should operate in pairs (one of whom carries a videocamera), and should proceed from opposite ends of search areas -- i.e., if a main search area is a 3 mi. stretch along the Choctawhatchee, half the search teams start at the north end (both sides of river and in the river itself) moving slowly south and half at the south end moving north.

2. at least one person (maybe more) on the project should have significant, if not professional-level, photography skills, operating a quality zoom camera (not just a videocam) under the given habitat conditions. This person need not even be a knowledgeable birder, but rather have the requisite wildlife photography skills and experience.

3. until photographic evidence is obtained, concentrate time looking for and monitoring FRESHLY-made scrapings and cavities, and less time on cataloguing all cavities and foraging signs, and thoroughly search such areas for feathers-of-interest as well. In areas of fresh appearing scrapings slather a molasses-type product on nearby tree trunks/stumps to try and further attract the birds (or attract insects that will attract the birds). Frankly, spend less time in general on sound recordings (but of course monitor areas from which sounds emanate), field notes, routine data collection, going to the bathroom(!), etc. until the necessary video/photo is obtained --- in short, initially forego a lot of normal and potentially valuable study data, in favor of simply documenting the species photographically. Once obtained then the study can proceed in the comprehensive manner that is most important. It is a sad state of affairs when one feels compelled to tell a team of scientists, "DON'T do research for the time being, do PHOTOGRAPHY," but that is where we've arrived at in the current Bizarro world of ornithology. One wonders what scientists a century henceforth will think when they look back at the foolishness of those who would let a species die by sheer neglect for lack of a pretty picture.
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