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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

Friday, July 06, 2007


-- Prestidigitation --

Louis Bevier has finally posted a personal website dealing with the Luneau video beginning here (and including 4 separate sections):


Maybe the most comprehensive single source yet for the skeptical view of the Luneau bird (that it is a normal Pileated). The first section ("Overview") is rather non-substantive so be sure to look at the other 3 sections that are the 'meat' of the website.
Most of this information was already available elsewhere (and remains debatable), but it is pulled together well here, and some of the numbers and details may be new to folks; further there is new discussion of wingbeat data. Moreover, Bevier may add to the site as he sees fit for clarification, correction, or in response to comments. Of course he still says nothing that convinces me 100% that the bird in question is even a woodpecker ; - )))

But once again, here's the thing: In magic, the art of "distraction" is one of the most frequent tools the illusionist employs. 'Look over here, look at my right hand, pay no attention to what my left hand is doing'. Skeptics keep pulling the focus back to the Luneau video, acting as if
only they just debunk it, it puts the case for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker to rest. Don't look at 50 years worth of sightings; don't look at signs or sounds; just look at this single piece of evidence... ohhh, and by the way only look at it the way I do. They're like a rottweiler with a ragdoll, shaking it back-and-forth, unable to let go. As possibly the most quantifiable piece of evidence thus far, I s'pose nothing will deter folks from pouring over this one item of accidental evidence with a false sense of accomplishment or certainty. Again, the Ivory-bill debate stretches across 50+ years of which the Big Woods and Choctawhatchee stories are just current blips on the screen. In opting to analyze-to-death 4 seconds of blurry pixels people are missing the big picture, but so be it. In all likelihood, there will eventually be other videos and images.

In the meantime, the latest issue of Birding Magazine has as their monthly photo quiz (for readers to try ID'ing) an automatic Reconyx photo of 3 birds from the Choctawhatchee (taken last November):


(I'm pretty sure it's 3 Rufous Hummingbirds on steroids ;-), but Louis may disagree --- and depending on your computer screen, you may get a slightly sharper view from the magazine itself than from the above pdf.)
"there will eventually be other videos and images."

You are certainly correct, they just will not of be of currently living Ivory-bills.

You do understand why that video was the centerpiece of Cornell's paper, don't you, and why the rebuttals written address the video and not the sight records?
"You do understand...don't you"

Probably not. He doesn't know the difference between pouring and poring.
Don't look at 50 years worth of sightings;

I believe these many of the sightings have been discussed. All but a very few of them are single observer for 2 seconds or less. Experienced birders understand that these are the most unreliable types of sightings, particularly when somebody is primed to see a specific species.

The longest sightings seem to be by non-birders. Again, any experienced birder knows how unreliable these types of sightings can be. I heard of a case where a non-birder in Florida mistook a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites at a nest for Long-tailed Jaegers, and could not be dissuaded from their opinion.

don't look at signs or sounds; just look at this single piece of evidence

The sounds have been reviewed rather heavily. The double knocks have been shown to be undependable (flapping duck wings, shotguns, etc.). The call notes don't match the only known Ivory-billed recording. The calls have also never been recorded in an extended series, as the known recording and descriptions of the voice would have you expect. Even if we assumed the Florida birds had a different call note, hundreds of call notes without a single series seems highly unlikely.

It seems that Jon Dunn's quote is still spot on. "I've never seen such awful documentation on any record."
"You do understand why that video was the centerpiece of Cornell's paper, don't you, and why the rebuttals written address the video and not the sight records?"

yes, I understand why the video is perceived or purported to be the centerpiece of Cornell's paper.
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