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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






Tuesday, May 01, 2007

 

-- Sooo Many Places... --

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Skeptics will have a field day if no solid new IBWO evidence arises by the end of May following this year's searches. Of course just a few years ago this year's two areas of greatest focus, the Big Woods and Choctawhatchee, weren't even on the Ivory-bill radar, though many other areas were. Moreover, I continue to hold the somewhat contrarian view that, for multiple reasons, the Congaree (S.C.) and Texas Big Thicket are not likely to yield IBWOs either --- but the point is that there remain so many other areas in need of thorough searches in other states. Why the Cornell Mobile Team spent no time in Fla. outside of the Panhandle I can't fathom, nor the short shrift they gave to Mississippi --- but of course they had limited time to briefly explore some widely spread out areas.

Over a year ago Bill Pulliam posted a state-by-state listing (
and he didn't do all pertinent states) of areas that he deemed potentially IBWO-worthy using Terraserver. My own belief continues to be that Fla., MS., and La. are the states of greatest immediate interest (though there are several others).
Below are just the listings Bill came up with at the time for Florida and Mississippi (I have copied them verbatim, but you can go to his site here to review both these two states and the others he analyzed). In short, there is much exploration still needed, and of these locales I wouldn't even be focussing necessarily on the ones of best habitat, but rather on the locales of least frequent human use or trafficking:

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"FLORIDA
Just the major areas; there are hundreds of small batches of nice bottomlands

PANHANDLE:
Pensacola Bay tributaries --

1. Escambia River (entire length) quite nice
2. Yellow River (entire length) plus Titi Creek and lower Shoal River
3. East Bay River

Others --

4. Choctawhatchee River (entire length) plus Pine Log
5. Appalachicola River, entire length but especially below Bristol; extensive swamps in lower delta.
6. Ochlockonee below Lake Talquin, plus Bradwell Bay and other flatwoods swamps around lower portion

WEST PENINSULA:

7. Extensive coastal flatwoods from in Taylor, Dixie, Levy, and Citrus counties. Large continuous forest areas from just behind the saltwater line for 5-10 miles inland, plus a large patch in east-central Levy county inland of highway 19.
8. Suwannee River (entire length) plus lowermost Withlacoochee River and Santa Fe River below I-75, contiguous with the coastal forest
9. Withlacoochee River (not the same one as #8) along the Citrus - Sumter county line
10. Upper Hillsborough - Withlacoochee area in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Polk counties.
11. Peace River from Bowling Green to Charlotte Harbor

SOUTH FLORIDA (below Lake Okeechobee):

12. Corkscrew Swamp. Beautiful and famous but more fragmented than I expected.
13. Big Cypress area. The largest patch in Florida. Especially north of Highway 41, including the Seminole and Miccosukee Reservations and Fakahatchee Strand.
14. Northeastern Hendry county, a lot of interesting looking areas, mixed forest and open land, hard to interpret from the air -- Devil's garden, Wild Cow Island, places around there.
15. Loxahatchee NWR (though it seems pretty unlikely they'd have been overlooked here)

ST. JOHN'S RIVER BASIN
This is some awfully heavily settled country for much to have been overlooked, but there is interesting habitat:

16. Upper St. Johns on Orange/Brevard county line.
17. Spruce Creek Swamp, southern Volusia county
18. Middle St. Johns from estreme eastern Lake county to areas surrounding Lake George and Crescent Lake. Quite a lot of nice swampland but fairly well-populated with those hairless ape creatures too.
19. Ocklawaha River in central Marion county.

And finally...

20. Lower Nassau River along the Nassau/Duval county line (including Timucuan Preserve). Fairly small and isolated.

MISSISSIPPI
Some interesting areas that I've heard little about.

1. Mississippi mainstem from Bolivar to Tunica counties -- many smallish forest fragments, more than in other states.
2. Delta National Forest and Panther Swamp NWR -- some of the largest forest patches in the Mississippi Alluvial corridor.
3. Big Black River, Mathiston to I-20 -- narrow but very long.
4. Mississippi mainstem and lower Buffalo River in southern Adams and northwestern Wilkinson counties -- rather extensive forests. Worth noting that this along with LA areas #9 and #10 forms a pretty good size area of almost interconnected forest.
5. Pearl River below Columbia to highway 90 (also in LA) -- primo area, very extensive, goes far beyond the portions that have been intensively explored by birders recently. Reports of possibly two Ivorybills from this area in the past few weeks.
6. Leaf and Pascagoula Rivers from McClain to I-10 -- another large area."
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in short, there's a tad more work to do folks, no matter what this season's outcome (not that everyone will want to hear this)....
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And from the Web Grab Bag:

NY TImes covers the sex lives of ducks here.

...or, if you can't access NY Times site go here for same story:

http://www.livescience.com/animalworld/070430_duckgenital_evolution.html

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