.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

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

Thursday, January 31, 2008


- Fleeting Texas Hope --


A reader sends in this link (pdf) to John Arvin's ongoing Texas 'IBWO Chronicles' (John's been in charge of the official Texas search effort), describing a 'possible encounter' (glimpse and sound) by John from last year's search near the Trinity River. Once again fleeting and suggestive only. Meanwhile, searching continues this season along the Sabine, Neches, and Trinity River systems of Texas.



Wednesday, January 30, 2008


-- Rambling --


Historically, the most active breeding/nesting period for Ivory-bills has been very irregular, making generalizations difficult. Still, the courting or PRE-nesting period, very generally Feb.-Mar., ought be the time of greatest activity and vocality. One may recall that the entire Arkansas excitement originally began with February sightings of "Elvis." Luckily, this is also a time of bare trees and better visibiity. Thus, hope for detection begins to increase around mid-Feb. Once the birds actually go to nest, they are likely more quiet and secretive, although if nestlings ensue there is the need for increased foraging flights (one may als
o recall that several of Cornell's other encounters occurred in April) --- moreover, as often noted, the most likely way to fully document the species will be by locating an active nesthole. So, as in prior years, the most interesting part of the search season is yet to unfold... but then, we've been postulating that for 2 years.

In 2005, K. Dean Edwards on the Tennessee birding listserv suggested that as long as researchers were listening to tapes of swamp sounds (for IBWO kents and double-knocks) they might as well additionally listen for the call of Bachman's Warbler, another extremely rare or extinct bird that shared the habitat of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. To some, even the Carolina Parakeet is not completely out-of-the-question as a possible find during a thorough check of potential Ivory-bill habitat. The Auburn folks claimed a cougar (not extinct, but very rare) sighting during their excursions in the Chocatwhatchee. Throw in botanists, entomologists, mycologists, and other specialties and no telling what'all might be discovered during careful searches of remote IBWO areas given enough resources and expertise. The natural world, even in the U.S., is likely far from fully catalogued.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


-- 'Birder's World' Compendium --


Birder's World Magazine online offers a nice compendium of their many articles on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker searches over the last few years (2002 - present) here (may require free site registration --- worth it).
Although I knew master birder Pete Dunne believed in the IBWO sightings, and knew his reasons why, I'd forgotten about this particular 2006 article in which he voices his thoughts (though in checking back I reported on it at the time):




Monday, January 28, 2008


-- Further Aerial Survey Info --


Cornell has posted more info on their upcoming helicopter survey of the Big Woods here:




Sunday, January 27, 2008


-- O.T. --


I suspect IBWO news may be slow between now and mid-Feb. (NOT that it will necessarily become faster at that point!) so may fill in with some off-topic posts (O.T.) as needed ---
Apologies in advance to those who stop by here ONLY for IBWO news, but will operate on the assumption that any posts are better than silence, which sometimes generates false speculations). So with that said:

Sight unseen, for several months elsewhere on the Web I've promoted Jonathan Rosen's new work and homage to birding, "Life of the Skies," expecting it to be excellent based on some of his previous writing. It is due out mid-Feb. A review on Amazon says,
"Jonathan Rosen set out on a quest not merely to see birds but to fathom their centrality—historical and literary, spiritual and scientific—to a culture torn between the desire both to conquer and to conserve." Keep an eye out for it.

And you know birding has hit mainstream when it shows up on NPR's Sunday puzzle with Will Shortz: the basic weekly puzzle as presented today is to take the 13 letters that form the names, "owl," "crane," and "egret," and form 3 different common bird names. Go to it birders, and show NPR how easy this puzzler was....

Finally, just to swing back on topic to finish with, a link back to Sufjan Stevens haunting tribute to the "Lord God Bird," from over 2 years ago, here (mp3 -- originally written for NPR).


Friday, January 25, 2008


-- Cornell Updates --


Nothing too noteworthy to report, but Cornell has posted updates from both their Arkansas search team and their Mobile Search Team. The Mobile Team report is here, and mostly recounts time spent in Louisiana's Atchafalaya region. Since finishing there they report, somewhat oddly, moving directly on to Alabama --- no mention made of any stops/searches in Mississippi --- not sure what that's about, unless they will be backtracking to the Pascagoula (which they rated highly last season) from the Alabama side???
The Arkansas search team only reports on 'reassembling' themselves and focusing on "previously unsearched areas" of the Big Woods. Their reports here, and they also mention the helicopter flyovers upcoming next week.


-- Say What?... --


In case you haven't glanced at them, just a few of the quotes that are part of the "Just Some Quotes" link in left-hand margin, to take you into the weekend:
"If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain... In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar." -- Richard Feynman

"It is really quite amazing by what margins competent but conservative scientists and engineers can miss the mark, when they start with the preconceived idea that what they are investigating is impossible. When this happens, the most well-informed men become blinded by their prejudices and are unable to see what lies directly ahead of them."
-- Arthur C. Clarke, 1963

"It's like religion. Heresy [in science] is thought of as a bad thing, whereas it should be just the opposite." -- Dr. Thomas Gold

"You can get into a habit of thought in which you enjoy making fun of all those other people who don't see things as clearly as you do. We have to guard carefully against it." -- Carl Sagan, 1987

"Modern science should indeed arouse in all of us a humility before the immensity of the unexplored and a tolerance for crazy hypotheses." -- Martin Gardner

"I ask you, which is the greater threat to science and mankind, accepting a claim that can have no possible benefit, or rejecting a claim that can have great benefit?" -- Dr. Edmund Storms

"What we need is not the will to believe but the will to find out." -- Bertrand Russell

"If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been much of a day."
-- J. A. Wheeler

"The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of childhood into maturity." -- T. H. Huxley

"The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively not by the false appearance of things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer

"Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world." -- Arthur Schopenhauer

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." -- Sir Martin Rees (astronomer)

"Advances are made by answering questions. Discoveries are made by questioning answers."
-- Bernhard Haisch, astrophysicist

"...By far the most usual way of handling phenomena so novel that they would make for a serious rearrangement of our preconceptions is to ignore them altogether, or to abuse those who bear witness for them." -- William James

"Everything we know is only some kind of approximation, because we know that we do not know all the laws yet. Therefore, things must be learned only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected." -- Richard Feynman

"One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike -- and yet it is the most precious thing we have." -- Einstein

"We do not understand much of anything, from... the "big bang," all the way down to the particles in the atoms of a bacterial cell. We have a wilderness of mystery to make our way through in the centuries ahead." -- Lewis Thomas

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny...' " -- Isaac Asimov

"The only solid piece of scientific truth about which I feel totally confident is that we are profoundly ignorant about nature... It is this sudden confrontation with the depth and scope of ignorance that represents the most significant contribution of twentieth-century science to the human intellect." -- Lewis Thomas

"Sit down before facts like a child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing." -- T.H. Huxley

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."
-- William James


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


-- Helicopter Search + addendum --


Next week searchers with telephoto lenses in-hand plan to commence a 10-day survey of the Cache River Refuge by helicopter in the ongoing search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas, hoping to scour ~100,000 acres:


There's always been some debate over whether such overflights increase the likelihood of spooking an IBWO out into the open for catching on film, or only cause them to cower more tightly in the safety of the tree canopy... but, there would seem to be little to lose at this point in the effort. Back in 1958, wildlife biologist Herb Stoddard reported sighting an Ivory-bill during a flyover (small plane) of the Altamaha River Basin in Georgia.

Addendum: For the sake of completeness, someone informs me that the helicopter search will include the White River NWR and Wattensaw SWA in addition to the Cache River NWR. Good to know.



Tuesday, January 22, 2008


-- Ivory-billed "Boom" Goes "Bust" --


NY Times article here on how the potential economic boom brought to parts of Arkansas by the the Ivory-billed Woodpecker has, for now, gone bust.



-- S.C. Volunteer Chimes In --


One of the South Carolina (Congaree) searchers briefly recounts his initial week involved with the S.C. search here. Nothing momentous to report. Can't be much fun searching or camping in the current frigid cold sweeping across the southeast.



Sunday, January 20, 2008


-- Sidenote --


Attended an annual all-day conference of science bloggers this weekend with scientists, bloggers, educators, journalists, and the like from around the country in attendance (and all ages, and levels of interest/credentials represented) --- a very broad-umbrella group; in the future might be nice to see more "nature" and even "birding" bloggers present, as several of the topics/issues discussed would be of interest to all (I assume it will occur again next year in January, and again in central North Carolina).

Much of the energy and agenda for the get-together comes from folks associated with the 'Scienceblogs' network on the Web. I'll just mention one of the more general issues they've focussed on lately, for any not already aware of it: an effort afoot to hold a 'Science Debate 2008' as part of this year's Presidential contest, in which candidates are specifically asked their views on various science topics that might guide policies should they make it to the Whitehouse (debates of course often focus on 'foreign policy' or 'domestic issues,' but rarely touch much on science perspectives, which could play a far greater role in the future of the nation and planet at large).

Go here (for starters) to get more info on this developing matter. (Realistically, Republicans will likely resist any discussion of science, so doubt such a debate will happen, but with enough outside pressure, just maybe....)


And here a follow-up to the story of the killed Bald Eagle linked to on Thursday. Rewards leading to the shooter have now climbed from $1000 to $14,000.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


-- Ahead --



The 2nd Gala of the "Ivory-billed Woodpecker Foundation" is about a month away (Feb. 23) in Huntsville, AL. with keynote speaker Dr. Jerome Jackson. More details and registration here (pdf).

Also, a heads-up for the first annual "Santee Birding and Nature Festival" in South Carolina, April 18th - 20th, with outings to the Santee, Congaree, and other areas of interest in central S.C. Info here (pdf).

Thursday, January 17, 2008


-- For What It's Worth... --


A massive new genus of palm tree is found hiding in plain sight in Madagascar (perhaps for 80 million years):

here and here.


Elsewhere on the Web:

Yet another sad, inexplicable Bald Eagle story here:



Sunday, January 13, 2008


-- "Stalking the Ghost Bird" --


Michael K. Steinberg's (now of the Univ. of Alabama) volume "Stalking the Ghost Bird," about the historical search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Louisiana, is now available for pre-order (March release).


Elsewhere on the Web:

here some footage all of us who feed squirrels, er uhhh, birds, can relate to:


and tragic, odd, gory story of Alaskan eagle deaths here:




Thursday, January 10, 2008


-- Cornell Posts --


Cornell has a new page at their site for following their current search season here.
I've placed a link to their Arkansas Search Log in left-hand margin links.

And Bobby Harrison's Ivory-billed Woodpecker Foundation has begun its own blog here.



Wednesday, January 09, 2008


-- Arkansas Interview --


Here a public broadcasting report/interview on the Ivory-bill search in Arkansas; includes Alan Mueller mentioning his sighting from last year and some new strategy for this season. Worth a listen (~10 mins.)
[Thanks to Ross Everett over at IBWO Researchers Forum for passing this along.]



Tuesday, January 08, 2008


-- Auburn Update --


Latest update from Auburn's Dr. Hill here on the Choctawhatchee search, officially renewed now in a leaner, scaled-back form.



Monday, January 07, 2008


-- Mobile Team Update --


Cornell's Mobile Team has posted an update recounting their December movements:


Some nice pics along the way, but nothing new IBWO-wise. I assume by now they've moved on from Louisiana's Atchafalaya, but not totally clear from the post.

Otherwise, things pretty quiet from the official searches.



Friday, January 04, 2008


-- 'nother Mississippi Searcher --


Article on another Mississippian looking for the Ivory-bill here.

Thus far the search has taken him "through Morgan's Brake, Tallahatchie County, Dahomey, Malmaison, Delta National Park, Panther Swamp, Anderson Tully, Mahannah and St. Catherine Creek." While "down the road, he plans to branch out through the Desoto National Forest, the Pascagoula River and the Bogue Chitto River." Cornell's Mobile Search Team should be in Mississippi this month as well.


From the Web Grab Bag:

Author Michael Pollan has a fresh new book out:
"In Defense of Food" --- looks to be excellent, especially for anyone who has enjoyed his prior writings. And biologist David Wilcove is out with "No Way Home" on the disappearance of migratory animals.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Older Posts ...Home