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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

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


-- Not Ivory-bills, but.... --


YouTube clips of Pileated Woodpeckers, the first, at a distance, showing 2 birds in courting(?) mode, and involving a bit of ground level dance I've not seen before. The second, closer up, is also labeled "mating ritual," though I think it is actually 2 males(?) in a territorial wrangle (...or maybe they're just gay ;-)

Addendum (see comments below): here are direct links to M.Collinson's take on these videos: here and here.


I hope you don't mind, but in the spirit of scientific inquiry and badness I analysed those videos for evidence that the 'perched IBWO' in Fig 1 of Fitzpatrick et al 2005 may have been a PIWO opening its wings. See what you think in the Secret Freezer at
well, golly geee, I can't slip anything past those perspicacious Brits; Martin C. immediately divined that the actual reason I posted these particular PIWO YouTube videos (out of several available) was because they showed examples of Pileateds rounding trees with wings flaring open as so many claim is a match for an early frame of the Luneau video. Unfortunately though, Mr. Rorschach again raises his pesky head, such that Dr. Collinson and myself perceive things differently.
Obviously, it is possible for the underwing of a Pileated Woodpecker to flash white from the back of a tree, but I'm not convinced any of the examples Martin uses (nor any others from these videos) are actually good matches for the shape/contours in the Luneau frame in question, and as a barrister for O.J. might warn us, 'if the contours don't fit, than the bird shan't be a Pileated' --- (I'm not 100% convinced of the Cornell interpretation either, just find it more comprehensible than the Collinson-Sibley-Jackson-Bevier-Seinfeld interpretations; ...okay, I jest, Jerry Seinfeld hasn't offered an opinion, yet).
Alas poor Yorick, I was hoping these videos just might aid skeptics in seeing the error of their ways, but instead they employ them to further reinforce their prior conclusions. Curses!!
I think you need a lawyer even 'better' than OJ's Cyber!
Alas Cyberthrush... if that's your real name... :-) if I were capable of seeing the error of my ways I'd wake up screaming in the middle of every night for 101 different reasons. As it is, I sleep like a baby, and I do respect your arguments that the IBWO could have held on for a time after people gave up on it. But let's face it, *that* bird was a PIWO. :-O
Martin, does this mean you reject out-of-hand my early suggestion that the bird in question is a muscovy duck? (muscovies have a LOT of different plumage patterns; it'll take you the rest of your life to analyze all possible permutations -- I suggest you get working on it NOW!! and email me in another 15 yrs. with your preliminary results :-)
"...my early suggestion that the bird in question is a muscovy duck."

Bill Pulliam addressed this very succinctly in a response to a comment on one of his recent posts. Cornell indicated there was no branch on the back side of the tree for the bird to perch on. That leaves only the trunk, which, frankly, limits the options for what kind of bird was captured by the video.
my muscovy duck suggestion has always been a tongue-in-cheek way of saying there is no PROOF the bird is a woodpecker because there is no PROOF, only ASSUMPTION, that it was ever perched on the trunk (we never see its legs) -- most skeptics argue it was already in flight when flashing the white underwing, in which case it may have never been perched at all (just flew up from below and behind the tree) -- do I believe that, no, but can I rule it out 100%, NO.
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