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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






Saturday, December 09, 2006

 

-- Big Woods Summary --

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I don't find much encouraging in Cornell's overdue final summary of last season's Big Woods search. Indeed one is almost left to wonder if the report's very late public release has anything to do with fears that earlier publication would've discouraged applications from new volunteers for the coming search season (but maybe I'm being too negative)??? Remote, automatic camera setups at promising cavities and foraging sites (one of the best hopes for evidence-gathering) captured only an array of Pileateds, other birds, and mammals, and no hint of IBWO. I've always found recorded acoustic evidence problematic and less than convincing, and there are but glimmers of it here (of both 'kent' calls and 'double-knocks'), as well as the usual glimmers of possible sightings. One can find nuggets of optimism if one so chooses, but the overall general weakness of findings will fuel increasing doubts.

The most encouraging factor to me is simply that only around 12% of the Big Woods was studied; yet even this is tempered somewhat, in looking at the Cornell maps, by seeing that the searched sites actually sample a wide range of areas throughout the Big Woods region (not just concentrated on a couple of southerly honed-in-on spots). Still, there is much groundwork left to be done.

I am glad that a systematic second search season is now underway in the Big Woods, but understand why many will be shifting their interest and focus to other areas (Fl., La., Ms., remain the Ivory-bill's most likely hangouts, or S.C./Tx. according to some) --- and Cornell's efforts have been instrumental in inspiring/planning many of the other searches.

At the very least it seems increasingly unlikely that any sort of significant population of the birds, as many originally hoped, will be found in the Big Woods; a few stragglers or isolated cases possibly being the best one can hope for at this point, and if they're not documented this search season most agnostics/fence-post sitters will no doubt fall to the skeptical side, at least for Arkansas.
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