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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.

Web ivorybills.blogspot.com

"....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

Sunday, January 28, 2007


-- No News Is OK News --

Since Dr. Hill's last update Ivory-bill news has been unusually slow (not much new on the Web nor in my emails). Of course we all know that can only mean 1 of 2 things: either there is nothing much newsworthy happening in the field... OR... there is SOMEthing noteworthy happening in the field : - )

In the meantime, to hold you over, here are a couple of weekend posts from "Erik Hendrickson" on the Ivory-bill Researchers' Forum in which he talks about a sighting he claims in Dec. 2005 in the Cache River area (AR.):




This whole tale of the Ivory-bill "rediscovery" reminds me so much of the last paragraph of H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, available from Project Gutenburg:

At that I understood. At the risk of disappointing Richardson I stayed on, waiting for the Time Traveller; waiting for the second, perhaps still stranger story, and the specimens and photographs he would bring with him. But I am beginning now to fear that I must wait a lifetime. The Time Traveller vanished three years ago. And, as everybody knows now, he has never returned.

I have been waiting my whole life for the Ivory-bill. It was mythical when I was a young birder in the 1960's in Oklahoma. I remember hearing about the Big Thicket sightings at that time. I remember reading in American Birds much later about somebody seeing an IBWO fly across I-10 in Louisiana in the 1970's. Nobody was ever able to find a breeding population. Then there was a long silence of well-publicized sightings until Kullivan's in 1999. Then, the Arkansas and Florida claims. Again, no breeding population found, despite massive effort (Cornell with 130 stealthy searchers over one season), and no indisputable photographic documentation, despite ample opportunity. (See my post in comments here on birdchaser's blog.)

I, too, fear I must wait a lifetime.
methinkest Mr. Coin too pessimistic (even if understandably so)... finding a 'needle in a haystack,' as the Ivory-bill has sometimes been called, may indeed take a long while -- in the last 60 years efforts put forth to look for it have been a pittance --- mostly followups to certain key sightings (while the majority of reports went unpursued). Finally, we're a few years into some serious and prolonged searching and folks are itchy for quick results, which are suddenly defined as a photo/video (nothing else being taken too seriously anymore). But science is often very incremental, with lots of dead ends and wasted effort for every breakthrough. There's plenty of time and habitat left and I, for one, have lots of patience, especially as long as sightings continue to get turned in (I've waited 45+ yrs. thus far, and don't consider that an overly long time). HG Wells' fiction is of less interest to me than the dozens of documented critters discovered living decades after scientists, in their profound haste, proclaimed them extinct.
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