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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, December 29, 2008


-- 'nuther Center of Controversy Goes To Grave --


Colorful Fielding Lewis, whose claims of Ivory-bill encounters in Louisiana in the 1970s could never be confirmed nor disproven died a week ago at age 78. Lewis persuaded premier ornithologist George Lowery Jr. of the reality of Ivory-bills in Louisiana in 1971, only to taint Lowery's reputation in the process.
Tim Gallagher devoted one chapter ("The Boxer") of his book "The Grail Bird" to the Louisiana character here (courtesy of Google).

One of Lewis's famous controversial photos of an Ivory-bill near the Atchafalaya leads off (and is colorized) this Dec. 2001 Birding Magazine article by birder Jim Williams.

Lewis's own book "Tales of a Louisiana Duck Hunter," which includes some of his Ivory-bill accounts, is available here.

Just to clarify, the original photos were color, so the reproduction in Birding Magazine was not "colorized," strictly speaking. As I recall, some black-and-white copies were circulating in the 1970's.
"I followed them on this day for three quarters of an hour as they moved from one tree to another."
James Tanner.

Unbelievable how things have changed. Truly unbelievable.
The Lewis photos were legit.
Thanks Fang for the clarification; the commonly published photos are almost always in black-and-white, so I'd either forgotten or never realized the originals were indeed in color.
As to the Tanner quote -- one can cherry-pick Tanner as one wishes... he often talks of the difficulty of finding IBWOs, in fact his total inability to find them by sight, requiring always to hear them first. And when he didn't have a guide (Kuhn) to lead him in Florida and S.C. he couldn't find them at all on his own even though he believed they were there.
Of course I hope the Lewis photos are 'legit,' but I do personally find it a very tough call; unless something turns up in Lewis's final papers they will likely always be debated.
Hello Anonymous 1:17PM
You say that the Lewis photographs are legitimate. And I hope that they are.
Do you know this for a fact, or are you merely guessing, surmising, hoping?
And if you definitely know that the photos are for real, please share your information and end this particular controversy once and for all!
Peter in Ireland
By applying common sense I conclude that if on occasion the birds could be followed for a long time in the 40's, with many times the effort it would be possible on occasion now. Especially since the bird HAS been found by Hill, Collins and Cornell. Reportedly.

Of course this common sense would not apply if the bird was extinct. Thus, I conclude the bird is extinct.
Just for the record:

Cornell has never found ivorybills, and that includes the 1924 pair in Florida and the Singer Tract birds in the 1930s.

I didn't find ivorybills, either. My only contribution was to obtain the first data from the Pearl, including the first footage of the cruising flight of this species.

Hill and his colleagues found ivorybills in an area where they had never before been reported (although there had been an old report from an area well to the north).

Mike Collins
Just for the record:

Cornell CLAIMED they found Ivory-bills.

You CLAIM to have footage of cruising Ivory-bills.

Hill CLAIMED to have found Ivory-bills.

The only thing lacking is verification of those claims. Without verification they do not and will not mean much.

Tanner CLAIMED to have found Ivory-bills. That claim has been verified. There are high quality photos and film that are clearly Ivory-bills, and he was able to bring other people in who also got good, extended looks at the birds.
from Gallagher's book:
"...so I put it on top of my head like this and I walked straight toward the bird to see how close I could get." Fielding stood up and mimed holding a camera on top of his head.

man... that's some good camera work
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