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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

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


-- From Across the Pond --

Haven't seen it yet, but British birder Dr. J. Martin Collinson will have a skeptical piece on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker
appearing in Thursday's edition of the online journal "BMC Biology," and including yet anutha analysis of the Luneau video --- should be worth a gander...

And, any numerologists out there...? --- I don't know what it means, but Wednesday (today) the main Ivory-bill thread over at BirdForum had its 10,000th post, and Thursday this blog is scheduled to get its 100,000th visitor (hmmm...may just mean a lot of us need to getta life! : - ))) --- or... someone amongst us needs to getta photograph.

Table 2 is very interesting and validates quantitatively Bill Pulliam's analysis. Clearly, the Luneau bird maintains its high flap rate much longer than the Luneau PIWOs. The skeptics will want to avoid this to the extent they can (of course, if the shoe was on the other foot, they'd kick it to death). An honest soul with restraint and integrity would have to say, "Hey...we still don't have sufficient data, so let's wait to make up our minds on flight speed until additional data are in hand."

The one odd thing seldom mentioned regarding flight speed in woodpeckers is the anomaly of Lewis' Woodpecker, a relatively slow-flying bird for its size. Moreover, there are very mixed comments in the literature comparing flight speeds of IBWO and PIWO. We should do better to avoid cherrypicking the comments that best support our personal view.
The paper is available here. It does interesting analysis of the videos, but it has big weaknesses as well. In particular is the wing beat frequency mentioned above, which at best does not support the Pileated hypothesis and at worst contradicts it. It also makes a couple silly assertions like that Ivory-bills shouldn't flap that fast because they are large. It also brings up the aberrant Pileated found by Cornell, but that could not be the bird in the Luneau video because it had no black.
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