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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."

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-- Arthur Schopenhauer

Sunday, November 26, 2006


-- This Just In --

Of possible interest, this note just in from an "anonymous" source, regarding discovery (in October) of a large South American woodpecker:
"It appears that a large woodpecker, Celeus obrieni, known only from a single specimen collected in Brazil in 1926, was just rediscovered. Details, including photos of the bird in the hand, are posted in Portuguese at:


Surely details will be posted soon in English. "
There is much debate over whether Celeus obrieni is truly a fully separate species or just a subspecies of Celeus spectabilus --- see: http://www.museum.lsu.edu/~remsen/SACCProp59.html
The division of species is often a difficult, tricky, and dare I say, somewhat arbitrary decision (not nearly as scientific or definitive as some assume) --- when there is only one prior specimen recorded, all the more difficult and shaky. I haven't seen any genetic analysis on this particular case (which would also not necessarily be definitive), and physical features and habitat alone, can be very misleading cues in individual instances.
Still, having said all that, the idea that a large living woodpecker specimen has been found that doesn't match anything seen since 1926 is, needless-to-say, intriguing. Make of it what you wish....

Thi is a rather crude translation of the article. Not perfect, but you get the idea.


It was a Saturday, 21st of October. The Advaldo researcher of the Prado made a survey of avifauna in the city of Goiatins, in the north of the Tocantins - in the path of the construction of a stretch of the BR-010 highway (Belém-Brasilia). Following a procedure standard in surveys as this, Advaldo had used a network of mist nets and collected the birds that had been imprisoned. The routine ended when he found a woodpecker that he could not identify.

Advaldo measured, photographed, freed the animal and was to consult the "Sigrist". He was frightened with what it saw: that woodpecker seemed to be a Celeus obrieni, the woodpecker-do-parnaíba, species identified in 1926 and not seen since.

It ordered a photo for the ornithologist Fernando Pacheco, who was involved in the sensational rediscovery of the Dançador-of-head-golden one (Lepidothrix vilasboasi), and the Tietê-of-crown (Calyptura cristata).
Perhaps this is, after all, the possibility to decide one of the biggest controversies of the Brazilian ornithology of the last years. Fábio Olmos, columnist of the Echo and, as Pacheco, member Brazilian Committee of Ornithological Registry. "The animal was known only from a specimen collected in 1926 for the naturalist Emil Kaempfer in Uruçuí, at the margins of the river Parnaíba, in the Piauí. As nothing seemed it was found until here, it could be a hybrid or a freak.' "

The finding of Advaldo seems to follow the standard of recent rediscoveries. In accordance with Fernando Pacheco, them has happened to, and in initiatives perhaps focadas not finding animals rare. "Researchers found these animals, far from its original locality." Goiatins is not so close to Uruçuí (PI), but also is not so far. It's important to realize that the environment of that area of the Tocantins is suitable for the woodpecker-of-parnaíba.

It is close to the quadruple verge (Tocantins, Maranhão, Piauí, Bahia), region with closed fisionomia of with ciliares bushes, in contact with some units of conservation. Moreover, as the species is well different from its closest relatives, it is improbable that the captured and photographed individual is a hybrid. Pacheco would like to see an genetic analysis of the Celeus obrieni to eliminate the doubts on its identity, since the capture in itself is not definitive. For this it will be necessary to collect blood of an individual.

Since little is known of the avifauna of the region, it is not improbable that it had a population of undetected woodpeckers for there, exactly that the region already has passed for some surveys. The pioneer was Jose Hidasi, Hungarian of birth and great authority in birds of Goiás and Tocantins. It covered most of the state in years 50 and 60, and collected material very. But the information is little accessible and more recent research has brought new registers and many extensions of incidence areas. It is possible that populations of obrieni in the south of the Piauí and Maranhão exist, regions still little known of the ornithological point of view.

The advance of the knowledge, however, has a shady side. The roads such as the BR-010 or the BR-163, or railroads as the North-South highway, indicate the expansion of agriculture and the cattle operations, as can be seen by anyone with the internet and Google Earth on his computer.. Thus, the identification or rediscovery of these birds (and innumerable other animals and plants) happens at the moment of bigger danger for its survival. Olmos and Pacheco wait that the notice of rediscovery serves to attract more attention for the region, of tourist scientific and potential interest, as Olmos already described eloquentemente here in the Echo.

The government of Tocantins already makes use of all the information necessary to create the units of conservation that that state deserves. It is good that it makes it fast, before the advance of the soy agriculture sweeps the map.
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