"....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.”
"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, June 25, 2007
Many know that Bill Pulliam has commented off-and-on for the last couple years on the Ivory-billed saga (I think with a reasonable amount of respect from both sides), so folks may be interested in his latest take on the subject here:
I would simply add the following to Bill's thoughts, regarding why after 2+ years of scrutiny we still lack an agreed-upon, clearcut photo of a living Ivory-bill (and I've said all this before):
this is a bird that likely spends most of its time high in the canopies, where it will be difficult to see or clearly identify, let alone photograph. Another chunk of time is spent inside tree cavities where it is literally invisible to human eyes. And so, not surprisingly, most sightings occur when it is in flight, which means quite naturally these are relatively brief encounters as so often experienced (and these birds can cover a lot of ground). Yes, one would hope to find the bird at a nesthole or a low foraging site --- indeed such is almost required to readily obtain the desired photograph --- but if the bird is exceedingly scarce in numbers in a given locale this too can prove keenly difficult... I see nothing extreme or outrageous in putting forth such an argument. IF, by now but a few Ivory-bills hang on in a few disparate locales, the pattern and type of occasional sightings claimed likely mimic what one might expect. Of course one hopes that somewhere there remains an ever-so-slightly more significant population, or else we may indeed be facing functional extinction, but in any event results thus far, while disappointing, are not that difficult to explain.
Needless to say, for a variety of reasons, I remain hugely optimistic that the species not only exists but does so in multiple locales; but the far-more-significant $10,000 question is, will they ever be documented well enough to persuade all cynics? I suspect my answer to that is also a resounding (if slightly more hesitant) yes... but I also suspect by that time, it may be too late to matter... and that is when certain skeptics, not the believers, will have an incredible amount of explaining to do.
I have a very extensive website on birds and birding, including photography. One of my biggest nemesis birds? Red-headed Woodpeckers, which aren't exactly rare in my neck of the woods. Occasionally, IF you can get one coming to a feeder, you might find one unwary enough to get photos of.
Getting a shot of a Red-headed Woodpecker in it's natural environment? It's darn difficult. They always rotate around to the backside of the trunk/branch/telephone pole that they're clinging to. Out of the hundreds I've seen in the past few years, you can count on one hand the number of good photos I've gotten.
Getting an Ivory-billed shot? Wow...I can't even imagine the frustration. Given the details of the sightings to date, and the short duration of those sightings, it's pretty obvious this is one shy bird. Trying to get a photo of a shy, AND rare bird? I'm not surprised in the least that no photograph has been obtained to date.
"Given the details of the sightings to date..."
The validity of these sightings is not a given.
"it's pretty obvious this is one shy bird"
If you are gullible and believe stringers.
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