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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

Thursday, April 05, 2007


-- What If... --

The big question looming for 'believers' now of course is, 'what if this season ends with no new photgraphic/video documentation for IBWO?' Skeptics have pushed the envelope to the point that any evidence or claims lacking photography is largely nudged aside. Interest and funds will diminish further if nothing more solid is presented this season than what has already been reported. Indeed, similar reports/claims could continue for years without swaying opinions --- in fact, skeptics will no doubt view such further reports, lacking in photographs, as yet more evidence for their rationale of human error and human expectancies run amuck.

It is possible that resolution will never come (although I still believe it will). And worse, if no definitive documentation is attained, skeptics will continue tooting the unsubstantiated notion that Ivory-bills died out in the 1940s. Those who believe the species persisted at least through the 50's, 60's and 70's may be left largely unheard in many quarters, all for lack of a clearcut photograph in the post-2000 period; this would be ashame, that such a likely myth might be continued. And in a sense 'science' has already lost out since both sides believe the other side is perverting science to argue its case.

Final summaries from Cornell, their mobile team, Auburn, South Carolina, and Texas, could contain several optimistic elements, and yet without the necessary photo not receive serious attention, and several other locales probably won't even be heard from this season. After 60 years of talk (or, more often silence), multiple, serious, systematic searches have finally begun, in at least some habitats; may we have the patience to see them through (...with, or without, a photograph in the next 30-60 days).

When I was a little boy, we had box turtles in our yard. Many of them had brightly colored heads and necks, but rather dull shell coloration. Each one had a different head and neck pattern. Usually they would close up at your approach and stay shut, hiding their pretty colors. Whenever I found a new one I would put it on the carport and wait for it to poke its head out, so I could get a look at its unique colors. Sometimes they could emerge in a few minutes. Sometimes it would take an hour or more of sitting quite motionless. Looking at box turtles taught me an important lesson about patience and persistence. Other such lessons followed. Nowadays our society seems to suffer from ADHD. I however do not.

I can assure you that resolution will come. There are those of us who have never depended on big money to find rare species and we will find and document these birds. Unfortunately for the egos of some, rare species do not care about their clever arguments and reality will intrude. Unfortunately for the egos of some, I will not give up on this bird. The result will speak for itself. See you on the other side.
Interesting how some box turtles are much more cautious than others, varying by more than an order of magnitude--but Ivory-bills never were.
Both James and Nancy Tanner noted the wariness of IBWOs as did Allen and Kellogg. Indeed Tanner spent 3 yrs. looking for them and only got pictures at or near a nesthole he was directly guided to -- never even able to get a photo at known roostholes; never able to find them on his own in Fla. or S.C. where he believed they persisted.
Virtually all forest creatures exposed to humans for any length of time are wary of them; it's only a matter of degree, and for IBWOs by the 1930s and beyond the degree was likely significant.
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