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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, July 10, 2007

 

-- And The Beat Goes On --



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A couple of the skeptics out there enjoy blanketly stating that all who claim to see Ivory-bills are "stringers" --- of course, if John Terres, John Dennis, Herbert Stoddard, and Tim Gallagher are stringers than I s'pose 90% of the ABA membership are stringers as well, and possibly listers with undocumented and exaggerated lifelists. A more common and reasonable refrain from the skeptical side is simply that "birders make mistakes," as if that simple truism is adequate to explain away all Ivory-bill reports over the decades. Birders mistake one gull for another, one flycatcher for another, one fall or female warbler for another, but how often do experienced birders claim to see a supposedly extinct bird, realizing the magnitude of such a claim? How often do they report Bachman's Warblers, Passenger Pigeons, Carolina Parakeets, Eskimo Curlews, or even simply out-of-range birds (in fact a great many out-of-range birds are probably missed because of most birders' nervous reluctance to report such)? Everyone has their own story of some terrible bird mis-identification they know of or took part in --- but what makes it a story worth telling is precisely the fact that such mis-IDs are NOT the norm... except apparently among IBWO observers.

People do make mistakes, a common one being to prematurely dismiss that which conflicts with one's own preconceived notions. If an Ivory-bill flies through a forest canopy, but no one captures it on film, then apparently it didn't happen, because afterall IBWOs went extinct 60 years ago. (...and trees don't make sounds when they fall in the forest with no one there to hear.)
The most fervent preconceptions at work in the Ivory-bill saga are not those of believers and agnostics, but those of certain skeptics, self-assured that the story ended in the 1940s, unwilling or able to let patience and persistence run their full course searching out needles in haystacks. Any evidence that does arise immediately falls victim to those preconceptions, rather than the full range of possibilities. Anyone who thinks the search for Ivory-bills is a waste of time and money is free to spend THEIR time and money elsewhere. Why certain skeptics continue to debate the same points ad nauseum, I'm not sure --- let the searchers do their job (and your legwork) and they will bolster your case given enough time... if in fact you have a case to bolster.

In related matters, Bobby Harrison's Ivory-billed Woodpecker Foundation website is slowly taking on more form here:

http://www.ibwfound.org/Index.html

And hey, to all the searchers out there I'll end with the simple words quoted by "Fangsheath" on another forum recently:
"Be the bird".... ; - )
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