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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






Wednesday, June 18, 2008

 

-- A Bit More --


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By now, most have probably read Dr. Hill's entry summarizing the 2007-8 season, but still, I'll reiterate a few points from the update:

1. Members of Hill's abbreviated team had no sightings and only 2 'sound detections' in the past season; other sound detections and the few sightings of interest came from independent individuals who cooperated with Dr. Hill, but were not part of his team.

2. Sound analysis of possible IBWO sound recordings continues to be done at Dr. Mennill's lab, possibly with some sort of summary ready by the fall. (Comparisons will also be made to other recordings of interest from elsewhere in the Southeast).

3. One of the more interesting aspects (to me) mentioned in the update is that all Federally-funded search teams this season were required to follow a "randomized search protocol" put forth by Univ. of Georgia's Dr. Robert Cooper (member of the official Recovery Plan Team) in which land blocks to be searched were randomly assigned (rather than a more focussed effort on 'hot zones,' signs or sound detections, or the like). While such an approach might be understandable when seeking to establish the range or population of an uncommon (but known) species, why such an approach would be applied in this instance where the very existence of the species remains controversial and needs further confirmation to satisfy all parties, is beyond me. If anyone associated with the search planning can explain the reasoning or justification behind a 'randomized' assignment protocol, I'd be curious to hear.

And elsewhere, both Cornell's season summary and Bill Smith's show-and-tell book continue to be listed as "Coming Soon"... bettin' I can guess which one appears first.
Meanwhile, Mike Collins is briefly back at the Pearl River in La. (from his Virginia home) following up on his latest efforts there --- how he can stand the heat and mosquitoes this time of year, I don't know, but more power to him. . . .

Addendum:

...Just a note to say that from the feedback I've received thus far, it would appear there is somewhat-less-than unanimous enthusiasm for the search protocol alluded to above ;-))
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Comments:
You won't allow this, but my guess is that if there were some ivorybills in the Choctawhatchee they were most likely run out by heavy handed nitwits from academia.

Same story in Arkansas.
 
I surmise that one of the reasons that the Auburn team is scaling back next year is that they too realize that their presence has driven the birds deeper into the swamp, away from the disturbance of a new group of searchers each week or so.

But I wouldn't be too hard on these folks - we are really turning a new page of learning with each search effort. I still go back to the Auburn's team first effort before their annoucement as perhaps the most effective method...put a couple of guys down there for a 3-6 month period in an isolated area where there have been regular sightings. Let the birds and wildlife get used to their presence and take their time with the search effort, maybe do other research as well.

This seemed to be a pretty successful strategy. But it takes a special person(ss) to persevere. I think it would be fun - and tremendously rewarding. But who but the young can make that kind of committment!
 
The fact that methodologies dreamed up by people who have never gotten their boots muddy are being forced on the funded searchers is one of the reasons why this unfunded searcher has obtained three IBWO videos while Cornell has obtained none and Auburn has obtained only one. The Auburn video was obtained during their first year in the field, which was before they were forced to tie their hands behind their backs. They did indeed drive the birds away in the second year--I was there and saw it happening. I also witnessed an ill-conceived search in the Pearl this year in which four talented naturalists were forced to search with their hands tied behind their backs.

Mike Collins
Pearl River
 
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