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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

Monday, June 11, 2007


-- Watchin' and Waitin' --

...and waitin'... and waitin'...

Another search season ends with stiiiill NO evidence for the extinction of the Ivory-bill :-))) .... just further sightings claims and/or auditory encounters in at least 3 or more disparate locales. But for lack of a photograph many will choose to contend IBWOs must be extinct, not merely rare. Such contentions are easy to make, but when involving an entire species, rash indeed, while reports continue trickling in.

As I've said before (regarding false positives and false negatives, or, type I and type II errors), the most ill-consequential possibility in this situation is not in assuming a species lives only to realize later that it is extinct, but in assuming it's been extinct for 60 years only to then discover that it persists; a hugely serious blunder indeed.

... here, another photo of an Ivory-bill museum specimen I hadn't previously noticed:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/67388199@N00/397882868/ see ADDENDUM first!

ADDENDUM: THANKS!! (the internet is great) In case it wasn't clear to all, the reason I linked to this particular above photo was because of the peculiar lack of dorsal striping on this specimen --- didn't know if this could possibly result from the specific preparation techniques used, or if female IBWOs could be so variable as to not always clearly exhibit the dorsal striping, but thought someone seeing it might comment. Sure enough, the answer (which I didn't anticipate), sent in by a half dozen different folks so far, is that this is NOT an Ivory-billed Woodpecker afterall, but a MIS-labelled female Imperial Woodpecker. The incredible size of bill and feet probably could've been a tip off.

from Web Grab Bag....

...not exactly breaking news but, American bird species are on significant decline:



You do realize that there will be reports coming in whether the bird exists or not, right?

Are you 100% certain the Ivory-bill lives?
no, there won't necessarily be credible reports coming in if the species is truly extinct -- there are plenty of supposedly or possibly extinct birds which in any given year go unreported.

I'm NOT 100% certain of ANYthing, including whether the IBWO currently exists -- I simply believe the evidence over the last 60 yrs. (not merely the last 2) indicate a probability well over 50% for it's persistence (...if I had to put numbers on it I'd say 98% chance it lived into the 70's and 90+% chance it persists today, but I'd make all the very same arguments even if I thought it only 51% probable).
So you misidentified another species of woodpecker as an Ivory-bill? And so did a long list of other commentators who looked at that photo? All those credible observers with plenty of time to look at the bird. Every single one that thought it was an Ivory-bill were wrong. Luckily, a quality photo revealed the truth.
ahhhh yes, of course, why didn't I realize it before; all those Ivory-bill claims out there are actually mis-identified Imperial Woodpeckers!

Actually, I know of one individual who believed Kulivan's 1999 Pearl sighting might have been of a pair of out-of-range Imperials (not likely, but he had his reasons).
A skeptic, P. Coin, correctly identified it.
not that it even matters, but most of the individuals who sent me emails or comments ID'ing the bird were non-skeptics (I don't know about the 'anonymous' commenters).
Now, if only people misidentifying Imperials as IBWOs really were a problem...
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