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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






Friday, March 27, 2009

 

-- Mobile Team Checks In --

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Latest update from Cornell's Mobile Team continues in the not-terribly-informative format adopted well over a year ago, reading more like a travelogue than any sort of scientific study of potential Ivory-billed Woodpecker habitat:

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/ivory/latest/mst_March09

The update reports some of the team's activity in Southern Florida (I presume by now they've moved on to finish up in South Carolina), and acknowledges no documentation of the IBWO attained, before rambling off into other tangents of often minimal pertinence. General but no detailed discussion of habitat, nor of any possible cavities or signs of interest. There would be no shame in simply saying that NO sounds, signs, cavities, or sightings of note were found during their efforts, if that is the case (indeed that would be good info to know), but they don't afford such. Nor do they say if the area warrants additional searching, or they believe other areas are more deserving of peoples' time. After promising "articles and updates coming soon" (whatever "soon" means?) quite awhile back, the meagerness (some might say, laughableness) of Cornell's reports is difficult to comprehend from America's premier school of ornithology.

Having said that, I don't doubt that Cornell is doing much good science in the background, but their communication of it to the public is amateurish at best. Very annoying. One gets the feeling that the communications end of things is being run by the same individuals who communicate to 10-year-olds for their so-called "citizen science" projects. I'd like to think the search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is a notch or two above that. Anyway, enough ranting...

With things soon drawing to a close on the official '08-'09 search season (and word is that the final summary for the '07-'08 season might now actually be close to public release... doooon't get me started), I don't foresee any significant news coming forth from this search season (...more sounds and signs of interest likely, but nothing significant enough to grab the attention of skeptics); although at any given time there are 1000's of Reconyx-type photos yet to be reviewed. I continue to hope that Gary Erdy will re-post his website with more details and fuller presentation at some point, and other independent searchers continue their efforts also, but we may well be watching the demise of major Government-funded searches for the Lord God Bird.
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Comments:
the meagerness (some might say, laughableness) of Cornell's reports is difficult to comprehend from America's premier school of ornithology.

If they had documented some birds there would be volumes of information. The trouble is that after years of searching they haven't. They are in a terrible position and rather than coming right out and saying they've found nothing and don't expect to, they obviously think it's wiser to say as little about the Ivory-bill as practical. People like to talk about good news much more than bad news.

This isn't going to end with a bang (finding the bird or EVERYONE suddenly realizing it was a huge error,) but a whimper.
 
Bravo, ct! On this one thing, at least, we agree 100 percent. This must all be terribly embarrassing to CLO. They spent all that time and money and this is all they have to show for it?

It would definitely be nice to have a little more information about how they conducted their search in south Florida, beyond the fact that they toured the Shark River Slough in a house boat (how nice) and got chewed on by mosquitoes and other biting insects (how awful).
 
There is a "silence that speaks so much louder than words" (Pink Floyd "Sorrow" lyrics)
 
Sure would have been nice if these dedicated researchers had come up with some sort of indisputable evidence in the last five years.
 
Sure would have been nice if these dedicated researchers had come up with some sort of indisputable evidence in the last five years.

Too many searchers and too few searchers were both standard excuses for why they didn't.

"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."

I think we're well into phase three.
 
very nice...
 
And another quote by Schopenhauer seems to be relevant to the IBWO rediscovery:

"Obstinacy is the result of the will forcing itself into the place of the intellect."
 
Men never cling to their dreams with such tenacity as at the moment when they are losing faith in them and know it, but do not dare confess it to themselves.

Anonymous (no relation)
 
These "reports" from Cornell are simply PR claptrap to fill up the time until they have no more grant funding. CT says he does not doubt that they are doing great science behind the scene, but I sure doubt it. What science could they be doing by simply looking for Ivory-bills? The birds and mammals they mention are well-known to occur in that area, and their methods aren't going to apply well to other species. Example: In there "search season start" document (here) they were talking about looking for migrating (or wintering!) Black-throated Blue Warblers in southwest Florida. If so, they are ending their search just as the spring migration begins--ridiculous. Perhaps a few do winter there, but Cornell's own All About Birds mentions wintering only in the Yucatan or the Caribbean. And don't they have funding to look for the Ivory-bill?

But hey, there is an IBWO Gastronomic Update:
"The crew is awesome and morale is great, due in part to Jell-O Instant No-Bake Desserts!"
Maybe they can go into the endorsement business.
Surely nobody can take Cornell's IBWO efforts seriously at this point, since it is clear that they do not. (Look at all the young, fresh faces on the search team--looks like the veterans have departed for greener pastures.)
I just wonder how long they will keep up the Ivory-billed material on their web site? It will probably disappear into the archives. Likewise with the USFWS. What is going to happen to their Ivorybill site? It will be interesting to see.
This long ago ceased to be about the Ivorybill and turned into a story about institutional spin control.
 
Forgot to mention in the comment above that they claim to be investigating southwest Florida for "wintering or migrating" Swainson's Warblers as well. They winter in the Yucatan, etc., according to Cornell's All About Birds. I think they start migrating north in March--again, just when the Cornell team is leaving. It makes no sense, and their diversionary reference to other birds in trouble is pretty gutsy, considering that their IBWO wild woodpecker chase has sucked funds from other worthy conservation projects.
 
Wow, you guys are so talented at reading between the lines and interpreting every nuance. And with humor, too. Give yourselves a group hug.
 
Coin, your beyond out of line. Do you have any data at all on anything pertinent to where IBWOs aren't or aren't?

Yes, the nominal sentence would have had "are" but why bother with someone who, while in the right habitat, is so out of the loop. I guess you settle for just being loopy.

Do you have trouble finding decent old growth or the highway signs that say Lumber, Santee, Green Swamp, Santee, etc.?

Its sick for you to have a hidden cam on Fitzpatrick's shrink visits rather than tree cavities. You vegetate in a decent area where past confirmed skeptics have come out of the woods scratching their heads about something other than mosquito bites....as they mumble "damn that white was wrong on the underwing....what a strange Pileated".

Good scientists have been in the field and have accumulated knowledge; no help from you, Sibley and Bucky with your strange and endless psychobabble is needed.

Please make yourself useful....if at all possible. Can I suggest a Pileated Woodpecker study...if you find 1,000 of 'em and no IBWO get back to us. And I don't mean count the same caged Maine bird 1,000 times with your host calculating wing flaps in a manner only you and he will understand.

By the way, are you his Carolina supplier of M80s to throw at the cage right before the flap Hz experiments commence?

SFTV
 
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