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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

Monday, April 30, 2007


-- Cornell Empty-handed --

Martjan Lammertink interviewed here, saying Cornell's search of parts of the southeast is over for this season and largely empty-handed of any new evidence for Ivory-bills. He remains impressed with the habitat of the Congaree area (S.C.), where he thinks he may have heard a lone Ivory-bill double-knock, but is unimpressed with the Choctawhatchee region (the Congaree also being one of Bob Russell's top spots for potential IBWOs). Cornell will no doubt release their own official preliminary report of the season at some point.
So far as I know only the Choctawhatchee team is continuing to search well into May of this search season, and Dr. Hill is due for an update-release, if there is any news worth updating.
Reminder that the ACONE automatic camera system in Big Woods is due for a new release tomorrow as well, but seems likely there will be no Ivory-bill photos/video out of this season.

MM in NY

The headline on this post is a little misleading, since the report only applies to the mobile search team, not to the Arkansas search, which is probably ending today as well and which seems to have been conducted with as much secrecy this year as last.

I'm surprised that Lammertink would speak so disparagingly about the Choctawhatchee and, by implication, Geoff Hill in a newspaper interview.
technically true about the headline post, though from what I'm hearing, Lammertink's thoughts most likely do apply to the Big Woods search. Even without pics or video, Cornell clearly needed to come up with more than they had last year from the Big Woods and that is appearing unlikely.

As far as any other quotes, I would simply caution that journalistic quotes are often incomplete and out-of-context and so can be misleading (I'm not saying these quotes are misleading, just that without more firsthand knowledge one can never know for sure).
Other than the typical caveate about newspaper articles getting quotes out of context, I would offer a guess that reference to "the claims" not being well-supported by the "body of evidence," may have more to do with the specific (early) claim by Hill's group that the Choc was "choc full of ivorybills."

If there were really multiple pairs (not to mention a population of at least 9 pairs) as apparently claimed, then the expanded effort should have nailed the indisduptable photograph by now.

Today, if we are being truly keept up to date with the findings, there is still no solid evidence of even one pair (some would say no good evidence of even one individual). For what it is worth, it seems the Florida situation and the Arkansas situation are turning out to be almost exactly the same (except that Arkansas has a bad video and Florida has a worse video, or two).

There is an emerging pattern where suggestive reports fail to result in anything more substantive (like the Pearl in 1999 too). We still don't know what is/are making the "kent-like" sounds at any of these sites that have been recorded except that they resemble Singer Tract calls that could be given by Blue Jays in Arkansas or don't sound like Singer Tract calls in Florida but don't match anything else presently known either. From what I have seen, no one has observed anything other than Pileateds or other common species foraging on "intersting sign" or entering/leaving "interesting cavities."

Makes one wonder what is going on, if not mass hysteria by otherwise serious scientists. Two explanations come to mind (1) they were never there to begin with or (2) this is a very, very rare species that ranges widely and for which there is no way until an indivudal is closely watched to distinguish "interesting sign" from more common species.

If the former, then of course no reason to continue. If the latter, the search should continue (to a point anyway) but with the realization that the chances of seeing one and getting a decent photograph is as slim as it gets (apparently slimmer than getting footage of snow leopards hunting) without finding THE cavity.
just a quick note re: above -- Dr. Hill has always said that he has NO idea where the rumor of "9 pairs" came from and never made any such claims -- my own guess is that it was nothing more than a mathematical extrapolation from the no. of birds being seen on their small site to the no. likely along all the suitable Choctawhatchee habitat.

truly the 'pattern' doesn't look good, but if we are dealing with needles in haystacks there remain many haystacks yet to sift through; it only 'seems' like a lot of area has been searched thus far.
Re: "rumor" and "9 pairs" -- this came from the Florida group, almost certainly. Dr. Hill himself wrote about it on pg 235 of his book (finished last year as this rumor was first spreading): "What I am sure of is that the ivorybills are there. Not one bird. Not a single pair. At least a half dozen pairs and perhaps tens of pairs of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in the extensive swamp forests along the Choctawhatchee River."

It seems far more likely that "9 pairs" is some number that was bandied about among those in the group as a whole (Auburn/U. Windsor). Far from a "mathematical extrapolation," it was a guess, and a bad one at that, like everything else that has emerged from Arkansas and Florida.
just to clarify (and not meaning to beat a dead horse), the idea of multiple IBWO pairs certainly originated with Dr. Hill and his group, the only question being where that specific number 9 came from, which once whispered, took off like a set established figure. Instead, yes, it was clearly a guess, though I still think it was a guess based on how much habitat had not yet been explored versus the no. of birds they believed they were seeing in the small sector they were exploring. In any event, whether pulled out of a hat or mathematically extrapolated, all water under the bridge for now :-(
Dr. Hill has always said that he has NO idea where the rumor of "9 pairs" came from and never made any such claims

What I am sure of is that the ivorybills are there. Not one bird. Not a single pair. At least a half dozen pairs and perhaps tens of pairs of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in the extensive swamp forests along the Choctawhatchee River

Yes, he NEVER said nine pairs. He said AT LEAST six and maybe TENS of pairs.

Completely different.
From "Ivorybill Hunters" as quoted in the Blog Which Shall Go Unnamed

"...First, I still think there is at least one pair on the west side of the river at Bruce Creek and one pair across the river along Carlisle Lakes. Then I'd say a pair at Cow Lake, two pairs in that vast forest along the channel we paddled yesterday, a pair at Lost Lake near Tilley Landing, a pair in the Reason's Lake area, a pair on Cowford Island, and a pair around Horseshoe Bend. That's nine pairs, and I'd say we've glimpsed less than 25% of this swamp..."
I wanna see the return of the parody of the Blog Which Shall Go Unnamed...where art thou, Septic?
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