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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

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


-- Thanks! --


I've had time to give the Recovery Plan draft at least a cursory once-over by now. First, a big THANK YOU! to the many involved in putting this document together --- clearly they took their subject very seriously (much moreso than several commentators on the Web treat it). The authors have stayed on topic and forged ahead despite all the sound and fury surrounding them; what results is a wonderful addition to the Ivory-bill literature. I'll caution in advance though that skeptics should only read the section on projected costs through the year 2010
for this endeavor, IF they have their double-dose blood pressure medicine immediately nearby... ;-)

For anyone familiar with the Ivory-billed literature large chunks of the report are repetitive of material already out there (and that's as it should be, since part of the goal was to pull together and summarize just such information). Thusly, large amounts of the 180 pages can be skimmed through quite rapidly. Moreover, many of the goals, objectives, priorities, protocols, plans, etc. listed are little more than stating the obvious, but again this is obligatory in such a report. It is worth reading closely the various state-by-state accounts of past claims and current habitat, for new tidbits. I was especially happy to see that some states of low historical importance were nonetheless given consideration in the report, even if downplayed (Tennessee probably being the most interesting of this group). However,
there is no consideration given to Missouri or southern Illinois, which I think may be one shortcoming of the report, but there was only so much time to research.

The states seemingly most touted for future searching (so far as I can tell) are the expected ones: Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas. Additionally, happily, parts of Alabama appear to be given serious consideration. And the report notes that in looking at all reports of IBWOs since 1944 virtually all of their previous historical range is represented, not just a few isolated locales.
Included (toward the end) also are significant sections of state timber analyses which will be of interest to many.

Further encouraging is that a great many of the tasks listed as needing to be done are given time-tables of 2-5 years for completion. Much of this will be dependent on funding, but at least the long-term nature of the commitment needed is herein recognized (as opposed to the rush-to-judgment, alternative-explanations-are-always-to-be-preferred-because-I-say-so crowd who think that TWO WHOLE YEARS of searching a couple places, without a clearcut photograph to show for it is somehow definitive). Also the report stresses at several points how little we know with certainty about the species' behavior and ecology --- this is in contrast to so much written by others implying certainty of some generalizations based on very limited data.

The weight of emphasis in this report however, is on Arkansas, the state that spawned the impetus for a written plan to begin with, and given limited funding and manpower, it is still unclear how many of the noted Southeastern areas of interest will actually receive significant attention.
This report was a long-time coming (promised at varying earlier times), but is likely worth the wait. Again, thanks to all who contributed to it.

One last side-note, and a bit of a surprise to me: David Kulivan (of David Kulivan fame, who I thought had long sworn off any further interest in this bird) is listed as a member of the "Habitat Working Group of the Recovery Team"!

Regarding Illinois and Tennessee, there was this intriguing little comment on page 85:

"However, several recent reports have surfaced from southern Illinois and western Tennessee (additional details should be forthcoming)."
yeah, I'm aware of some of those reports (and by "recent" I think they mean 2005-6), but I believe they have been followed up on, unsuccessfully, and may not receive further attention (not certain). And Missouri, with less suitable habitat, has been totally bypassed as far as I'm aware.
"I believe they have been followed up on, unsuccessfully"

Just like all the reports from Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina...
no, several of those reports had additional sighting claims on follow-up, only a photo was missing.
Again, by your criteria, all Christmas count reports turned in without photos, must be viewed as undocumented.
No, by my criteria all Christmas count reports of extinct species turned in without photos must be viewed as undocumented.
yet even knowing that people are capable of mistakes and lying you automatically accept undocumented reports of non-rare birds, no questions asked...
people can go their entire lives having their reports accepted and then report an IBWO and suddenly metamorphize into a 'stringer' overnight... interesting evolutionary concept fer sure.
people can go their entire lives having their reports accepted and then report an IBWO and suddenly metamorphize into a 'stringer' overnight... interesting evolutionary concept fer sure.

Do you really not get it? If so, how do you live in the real world?

I know you accept undocumented claims all the time in your everyday life, and reject possible, extraordinary claims because they are too good to be true without extraordinarily good evidence. (A Nigerian has 20 million dollars and will give you half if you help him move the money to South Africa.)

If someone at work tells you they are late because their child is sick this morning, and they have a reputation for truthfulness, common sense dictates you accept their explanation. If they claim they were late because they were talking to an alien being (possible, wouldn't you agree??) you don't believe them without some rock solid evidence to back up their claims. That is what makes the "extraordinary claims" quote so appropriate. There hasn't been any rock solid documentation of the bird in 6 decades despite thousands of sightings and millions upon millions of dollars spent searching. The standard excuses you trot out are the standard excuses people use to defend bogus scientific claims. Your need to constantly go after the mean old skeptics rather than promote the evidence shows how truly pathetic the evidence is.
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