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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, August 31, 2007


-- 'nuther Big Bird in the News --


Sesame Street, NOT! :

As many know, a putative ;-) Jabiru materialized out of thin air in Mississippi recently (huge, striking, almost comical-looking bird... not unlike some others occasionally mentioned on this blog...) Rarely seen in the U.S., it created a stir in birding circles, especially for those close enough by car, train, plane, or Nimbus 2000 to go look for it. Anyway, can't help but wonder how much excitement there would be over this rogue bird had there not been an accompanying diagnostic photograph supporting it's arrival. Without the supposed photos, would it's improbable presence be questioned and immediately dismissed as "not credible," "moonshine-induced," or simply, "no way"?
IBWO skeptics would say this is exactly the point --- there are photos of the bird! --- people claimed seeing one AND have photos to verify!! Of course Jabiru don't reside high in dense forest canopies and inside tree cavities, but hang out conveniently in fields... which can make a difference (moreover, all of this assumes the purported photos are authentic --- haven't seen what the evidence for that is yet, other than trust --- afterall we're surrounded by stringers and hoaxers these days --- and oddly, the huge stork hasn't been relocated since its initial cyberspace splash).

[none of this means I doubt the report's validity; it's merely a recognition that I possess no direct evidence either the report, the photos, or the bird are real, beyond my blind trust in some of those doing the reporting --- what some might call 'faith-based ornithology'...]


Near where I live in the S.F. Bay Area, Pileated Woodpeckers are very rare east of the bay. For several years, there have been sporadic reports of 1 or perhaps 2 Pileated Woodpeckers in the hills on the east edge of Oakland. There are only a couple to a handful of reports per year even though it's been found in a heavily used regional park with a good network of trails. There is no shortage of birders in the area, and there was a breeding bird atlas effort in the area recently which only intensified birder attention. Most of the sightings have been of an individual in flight, and to my knowledge nobody has gotten a picture of the bird(s). Most of the evidence of its presence is from its distinctive diggings in dead trees. The elusiveness of a Pileated Woodpecker in a heavily traveled urban area only underscores the challenges of finding Ivory-billed Woodpecker at very low population density in much more challenging habitat.
There are ways of separating fantasy from fact. I am willing to bet that if this report is true there will be photos of this single bird that will be better than any photo of an Ivory-bill obtained in decades. The difference is not range or habits or wariness, it's REALITY.
the photos of the Jabiru already exist -- the question is indeed are they REAL (...and I'm not saying they aren't; I'm saying I can't prove they are; I can only take it on faith).
My point: Real birds, real photos is legit. The obvious reason no one can get decent photos of Ivory-bills is there aren't any.

What exactly is your point? Is the reason there are no good IBWO photos because they wouldn't prove anything anyway?

Do you see how easy it is to predict there would be photos of the Jabiru and that there wouldn't/won't be any (recognizable) of the IBWO taken in the 2006 or 2007 or 2008 or 2009 search seasons?

Do you see how if one or two people get several good photos of the Jabiru along with detailed reports, rational people are going to believe them?
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