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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






Sunday, July 08, 2007

 

-- More This and That --

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A recent post by Bill Pulliam inspires me to reiterate what I've said multiple times before. What is most important for Ivory-bill debaters to consider is NOT the likelihood of being right, but rather the consequences of being wrong. If one believes the Ivory-bill persists and you are wrong than a lot of time, energy, and money is being spent in one direction that maybe could've gone in some other more productive direction (although a lot of that energy and $$$ simply wouldn't have existed without the original Ivory-bill announcement). But if you believe the Ivory-bill is extinct and you are wrong than inaction will almost assuredly cost this species its life at long last... not something to be proud of, especially for anyone claiming concern for birds or conservation. I'm willing to take a chance of making that first error, but unwilling to take a chance of making the second without a lot more data... in fact, why anyone would deliberately chance making the second error when sightings continue and time may be of the essence, is a bit baffling, except they apparently have faith in a level of scientific certainty which is illusory. There seems to be blind faith that because mistaken identifications occur on occasion (and many IBWO claims are known to be just that), apparently all such instances across decades and locations and observers, can automatically be generalized as such without specific, solid evidence for doing so. I wish skeptics would at least be consistent and give 10's of 1000's of unverified, undocumented, unscientific bird count reports the same scrutiny, instead of a free pass, but that would involve having their own reports examined...

Fred Virrazzi posts this mini-summary of last search season on the New Jersey listserv:

http://littlebirdiehome.com/A070707_Ivory-billed_Update.htm

At least a couple of purported sightings, which may or may not be included in final reports, go unmentioned here. The Florida video release Fred mentions will occur at the August AOU meeting in Wyoming, about a month from now. I doubt it will be released any earlier, and likely won't be on the Web, since that requires compression, which makes it fuzzier than it already is at full resolution.

A few emailers have asked what I think of the Birding Magazine photo quiz: I don't happen to believe the birds in question are Ivory-bills, but won't say what my own best guess would be, since it's no better (and actually worse) than other guesses will be (...and am surprised there haven't already been more online guesses voiced). I do hope some expertise may exist out there for making measurements of the wing/body ratios of these birds to aid in eliminating certain possibilities, but don't know if the resolution is good enough to do so with enough accuracy.
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Comments:
"I wish skeptics would at least be consistent and give 10's of 1000's of unverified, undocumented, unscientific bird count reports the same scrutiny"

We do you fool

That's why stringers can no longer get away with reporting a wintering flock of 10,000 Semipalmated Sandpipers in Florida
 
the point is, that stringers can report 20 cardinals that they never ever laid eyes on and it will fly through unexamined as a valid report; nobody really knows how many non-honest or nonvalid reports go into count data.
 
How 'bout Common Loon for the Birding Magazine quiz...
 
Common Loons have white bellies.
 
But if you believe the Ivory-bill is extinct and you are wrong than inaction will almost assuredly cost this species its life at long last.

I thought it was the skeptics that wholly underestimate the tenaciousness and adaptability of living things in general, and this species in particular.

So you claim the bird has lived for 60 years without help, and habitat has been steadily improving, yet if we don't suddenly believe we will be responsible for it's extinction?

There seems to be blind faith that because mistaken identifications occur on occasion (and many IBWO claims are known to be just that), apparently all such instances across decades and locations and observers, can automatically be generalized as such without specific, solid evidence for doing so.

Because no one can ever prove the bird exists, it is not blind faith to assume that every single report is false. It's common sense.

As usual, it's the big picture that's important. I doubt you'll ever admit it to yourself, but it will grow increasingly clear to people that there is no substance to the reported rediscovery. That will be thrown in the face of environmentalists countless times in the coming years.
 
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