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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

Monday, April 14, 2008


-- Southwest Arkansas --


New update from Cornell's Arkansas team with more actual details than they usually afford us, here; continued followup in western Tennessee is briefly mentioned, but most of post about investigating a previously-unsearched area of southwest Arkansas. Interesting story of an encounter with a Pileated missing all its secondaries as well. Buuut... need I say it, no headline IBWO news. Can an update from the Mobile Team now be far behind...?

Re: those inquiring emails I'm getting... no, NO, the recent blog alterations mean NOTHING... I had several changes in mind to make this summer, and seeing David Luneau's revamped website just inspired me to do a few cosmetic changes of my own right now. And there's nothing to read between the lines either. Yes, there are multiple rumors afloat... and there are ALWAYS rumors in April... nothing substantive that I'm aware of, and I've serious doubts (in terms of anything definitive) that any of it means much. But, as skeptics would say, I could be mistaken, and others may have a different take altogether. Carry on.....

"Shortly after starting our watch, we spotted a large black woodpecker flying down the trail toward us. It turned and there was no black trailing edge on the wings as there would be on a pileated, only white. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Chris exclaimed. This was our moment of triumph. We had it. We found our bird. Our cameras were aimed. The bird landed on top of one of the trees with scaling—and let out the laughing call of a Pileated Woodpecker."

If it hadn't landed they could have said that they'd seen a large black and white woodpecker with white trailing edges, so it HAD to be an Ivory-billed.

I guarantee it would have been a probable if not a certain Ivory-bill sighting.
If you happen to have read on they said they felt it was more likely to have been a pileated even if it had not landed as something did not seem right!!

Always picking certain parts I see and not looking at the whole story! typical!!!!!!!!!!

Please don't just pick out parts of the story.
I think Anonymous 1's point is fair and well-taken (even if he can't truly "guarantee" it) -- one has to wonder if the bird hadn't landed and called what would've been reported, and moreover wonder how often such birds (PIWOs happening to miss ALL their secondaries) exist. Just as one has to wonder how many, if any, PIWOs exist at any given time, with symmetrically-leucistic secondaries.
And it's too bad they didn't snap a picture of this bird, just to see how it appeared in flight photographically.
Thanks for a very objective comment Cyberthrush.

The lesson is it is easy to make ID mistakes, especially if you rely on one fieldmark. There have been several documented examples already where birders originally thought they had seen the white secondaries of an Ivory-bill but saw the bird long enough to determine it wasn't:

1. Noel Snyder's leucistic Pileated,
2. The sun at just the right angle so glinting sun appeared to be white secondaries.
3. This current Pileated with missing secondaries story.

And of course Mr. Bednarz pursuing the woodpeckers through the woods, three different times, to determine it was (an) aberrant pileated(s) showing white where they shouldn't.

What was missing in most of these cases, as is the cases of most Ivory-bill sightings, is multiple fieldmarks. What is different from most Ivory-bill sightings is the bird was seen long enough to see determine what it actually was.

Before somebody jumps in and says "so and so saw multiple fieldmarks" I should point out that many people have given careful descriptions of aliens, Bigfoot, angels, fairies, etc.

There are many examples of people reporting Ivory-bills, ticking off all the fieldmarks, and when an expert shows up they are shown a Pileated.

Smart people commonly make serious mistakes.
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