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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

Saturday, November 22, 2008


-- The Audacity of Hope... Indeed --


For all who continue to 'keep the faith' just a few paragraphs I wrote over 8 years ago, after the Kulivan La. sighting, but well before all the Arkansas excitement (a personal paper):

"In the biological sciences what we don’t know still far exceeds what we do know, and what is mysterious far exceeds that which is understood. It is only our faith in our small scrap of knowledge that permits people to doubt the further existence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. What we need in this case is to put more faith in our ignorance! --- to acknowledge in short that we know too little to draw firm conclusions.
Photographs we have of Ivory-bills show a creature so vital, so wild, so determined, as almost to belie the possibility of their vanishing from the face of the planet. The will to live, the urge to reproduce, are among the most compelling drives in nature, and no doubt the Ivory-billed Woodpecker possessed these as much as any creature (bird artist Eckelberry wrote of its “rigor” and its “almost frantic aliveness”, and Alexander Wilson noted its “noble and unconquerable spirit”), such that it would seek with all its energy, facility, and acumen to overcome Man’s trampling upon its home and somehow, somewhere, in some way, simply continue on out of our view, aloof to our intense curiosity.
Indeed, in the farther recesses of my intuition and imagination, where sunlight glimmers and woodland shadows dance, I can just hear its clarinet-like toot reverberating, while patches of white flash with every wingbeat like lightning bolts through a forest canopy, and the heart of this most majestic of North American birds beats wildly in defiance of both Mankind and probability. Some may call it wishful thinking, or sheer fantasy, or even simplemindedness on my part, but I simply call it hope... a hope which, like the bird itself clinging tightly to some remote unseen sweet gum tree, clings securely to the human mind and heart, until much more evidence than we currently possess demonstrates once-and-for-all this bird’s survival... or demise."

And 8 years later, strangely enough... I feel much the same.

Thank you for your post! How can we not hope?!
I agree with the concept of hope, but do you really, and honestly, think that there is any chance of finding an IBWO ever again???
my broken-record response: I'm optimistic (for now) some IBWOs exist, but less optimistic as to how many, or whether they will ever be documented to everyone's satisfaction. The 60-year Ivory-bill saga is as much the story of the application and limitations of science as it is the story of a bird species.
Your eloquence with these words inspires me even though I am reading them belatedly. Good sightings by qualified observers, though uncommon, keep me in the group that say a few of these birds still exist.
I would have to agree that most birders have no chance of finding an IBWO. On the other hand, most of those who have paid their dues in the swamps have been rewarded by seeing this magnificent bird.

Mike Collins
Of those who have seen this bird, a good number are hunters and fisherman who frequently spend time in inaccessible areas throughout the year.

Steve Sheridan
Cyberthrush, You have a wonderful way with words. I have no doubt the IBWO exists. And I think we will be surprised that it is more common than currently thought. This species is just not hanging on, but can be found wherever the right habitat can be found - I'm a big believer in the "Field of Dreams" affect, and the resilency of nature to endure, rebound and ultimately thrive again.

Thank you for your posts, I don't always agree with you - but you inevitably give me pause as I reconsider my own opnions and understandings.

Best Regards,

Ralph Wojtech
glad you get some food for thought here, Ralph, and hope your optimism is validated one day, and my pessimism ISN'T... p.s.: I wouldn't feel I was blogging properly if any readers agreed with me all the time ;-)
many thanks cyber for this blog and your courageous optimism! i believe Dennis & Lowery would be most thankful for your efforts.

even though i have not been able to secure that perfect ibwo photo, it is an unalterable fact that the birds still fly.

cyber, i hope you get to see the birds someday...magnificent bill... awesome... what a honker!

'keep the faith'...your 'hope' still flies!!

again, thanks for all your efforts on this matter.

ibwo hunter
you talk as if Mike Collins hasn't 'documented' lots of birds and that Geoff Hill didn't really 'find' nine pairs in the Choctawhatchee. I mean, if they did, this would have been over now, and the bird would have been studied, the areas conserved and dare I say it, people might actually be seeing the birds routinely. And both Geoff Hill and Mike Collins would be household names on the airwaves and in birding and popular science journals rather than the stringy know-it-all scientists masquerading as birders that we really known them as.

As Roy 'slow talker' Walker used to put it: just say what you see.
Have you ever been in the field with Geoff Hill or Mike Collins (or even met them)? If not, then what is the basis for your comments?
Pecker envy
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