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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

Friday, May 22, 2009


-- Open Thread #4 --


For the numerically-inclined, this is, according to Blogger stats, post #1001 for this blog.
Who'd a ever thunk it!... (of course BirdForum.net has close to 14,000 posts on their IBWO thread, so maybe we just be gettin' started here ;-).
...Anyway, may be a fine time to try another 'open thread,' even though participants seem to be shy or absent since internet ID was initiated. But if the spirit (or ghostbird) moves you....

[ p.s.: for those who don't already know it, the easiest way to obtain a Web ID that permits 'comments' access to this and other blogs is to sign up for a free Google gmail account --- you can of course use a pseudonym or actual name, and you don't even have to use the gmail account for email if you choose not to, but it does establish a working Web ID ]

I'm glad that you made the change with respect to comments, as things had got out of hand, with people from all sides throwing in non-productive attacks that fell well outside any sort of useful, reasoned, social discourse. I was surprised that you blamed the skeptic side for this problem, as I saw the problem stemming from troublemakers from each side; but no matter, it's in the past.

Here's my open thread suggestion -- perhaps you could rename your blog, as you proposed in a humorous thread a while back. "I hope that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers live" could be an excellent centerpiece of discussion going forward. Your more declarative title has become somewhat dated.
Appreciate the thought David, but of course changing the name of a blog that's been around as long as this one has creates its own set of problems -- though I could at some point replace the exclamation marks with question marks without doing much harm. But if the bird is documented at some point, as I believe it will be, I'd simply have to change the name back again!!

BTW, I agree both sides of the issue create some problems in the comment section, but just felt it was exacerbated by a tiny handful of the skeptical sorts.
>>>"I hope that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers live" could be an excellent centerpiece of discussion going forward. Your more declarative title has become somewhat dated.<<<<

Dear David, Dated? Sightings are happening just as they have for the last ten years. Those that thought it would be easy were overly optimistic. But this is no reason to throw substantial data away.

There have been over 100 separate sightings recently and the distribution is far from random with many experienced observers involved.

It's generally accepted that size and life span are correlated in Picidae. The Kulivan bird(s)are potentially still here. Many more field scarred than the average poster have called this species extinct in the past and have been proven wrong. The club rooster is lengthy and their is no large entry fee.

Hoping, as you suggest, is an emotional manifestation. It connotes that no evidence of existence has been gathered and there have been no official acceptances in various peer reviewed venues that definitive to strong evidence EXISTS. Emotion will not weaken the substantial evidence.

The trend of data and reports to some objective, workman-like researchers does not support extinction. IBWO is potentially near to extinction but is long lived, tenacious and intelligent.

For the scores who have seen and/or heard the bird "hoping", as you put it, for something you already know to be true is a bit counter productive.

Some here have seen the bird themselves and they really need no emotional pick-me-ups, since in general they are good field observers. More than a match for this small set of confusing species. Its not HY, fall female Pine, Blackpoll and Bay-breasteds to struggle with.

Since we are suggesting humorous or emotional blog names can I propose : The IBWO is Extinct and Other Things determinable via the latest Ergonomic Keyboards.


Thanks for your input.

You don't quite seem to appreciate that a great many people are familiar with this evidence that you are so convinced by, and are by and large quite unconvinced. You are not the sole beneficiary of secret data on this account. Most of us have drawn different conclusions than you. I hope that you can find a way to accept this without getting so agitated about it. There's nothing wrong with believing the reported sightings as correct, but please don't patronize the rest of us, characterizing those who are unconvinced as being uninformed or worse. There is a more civil and respectful way to approach differing interpretations of the same data.

There is a wide class of phenomena that are widely reported, fervently believed in, yet not conclusively documented. Sadly, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is one of these. I think we can agree on this. I know that you are quite convinced by a few poor-quality videos; that's fine. I am concerned when the only images that can be obtained are unrecognizably blurry, despite significant search efforts.

No one disputes the experiences of people who have reported sightings. These people fervently believe that they have seen the bird. As humans we trust our own perceptions without question. This said, humans frequently perceive things incorrectly. I'm sure we can also agree on this point.

I write this in the hope that you, like Cyberthrush, can get to a place where you can acknowledge the skepticism of others as a reasonable and respectable position, even if you don't personally agree with that position.
To be clear David I DO respect several skeptics; and I especially have no great problem with those who increasingly lean toward extinction, while remaining open to new findings. My beef is with those who express 'certainty' (scientifically unsound) that the IBWO is extinct (some even claiming it has been extinct since the 40's, though COMPLETELY UNknowable). I'm especially bothered by those who continually state that 4 yrs. of searching have produced 'no evidence' for the IBWO, when there is actually MUCH evidence, the debate only being over its quality --- it would be like saying that OJ Simpson was acquitted because a jury found there was 'no evidence' of his guilt... there was plenty of evidence of his guilt, just not convincing enough to that particular jury to be beyond a reasonable doubt. There is plenty of evidence for the IBWO too... but there can be reasonable doubts.
If the IBWO is confirmed, a lot of birders (the one community that should've been working on behalf of the species), will have a lot of explaining to do for their hasty conclusions. I'm willing to conclude at some point (with adequate evidence) that the species is extinct; I'm NOT willing to assume it extinct and then at some point discover I was wrong; that's already been the unfortunate history of this species.
Totally understood and agreed, CT. This is what I meant by my reference to you in my previous post; sorry if that wasn't clear (I think you got it, but I wanted to reinforce this).

Fred, on the other hand, seems to be more interested in throwing fire bombs around than having a useful discussion. I sense that he is more interested in having a fight than anything else. I find his conduct much more embarrassing to see than the Cornell crew who jumped the gun on announcing the rediscovery.
Dave your opinions are ripe and your motives conspicuous.

If you have something substantive to say about the evidence say it. If you have written some in depth analysis of the various videos or done some other work please cut and paste it in.

So far we have heard about how you are fearful about the possibility of me getting agitated, fearful of disprespect breaking out, fearful that we are all not holding hands, fearful of flame throwing.

Funny you seem to be doing pretty good on the latter on your own.

We are also quite interested in this unpublished poll of yours that the great masses say this or that. (Actually have no interest, this is about a conservation issue and not a popularity contest subject to voting).

If you want to formally debate the evidence respectfully with all questions about the IBWO answered by the other propose some on line times for the possibilities of an interesting live debate.

I am sure some of us would like to hear about any actual field data you or your associates might have collected.

And no I will not debate green house gases, Cornell's alleged and actual sins, silly analogies, or the psychology of mistakes (which skeptics are subject to also).

Alexander Hamilton
The lack of field data of anything that could be construed as a competently documented IBWO is what you should be debating. I'm sure there are people who are happy that the 'evidence' as it is, is conclusive. That's their choice. The fact that you think people need to have written in-depth analysis of those awful blurry videos before they have a right to comment is peculiar. Plenty of birding experience is all you need to understand what has happened.

A bird that can be 'detected' by those that are keen to document it but can never be properly found, is a flight of fancy. If you are right, then the species will be discovered, studied and protected (it's looking unlikely after four years of unrelocateable 'sightings'). If you are wrong we will never 'know' because unfortunately, you will always have the future to wait on.
It’s going along exactly as expected. False skeptics proving they won't/can’t discuss the evidence in an open debate. True skeptics when they actually uncover a problem with the evidence can articulate what’s PLAUSIBLY and specifically wrong with the argument and do not, for example have to revert to these impossible “duck wings” knocking theories where there are no ducks.

They also do not, as your titular head has said, call it “just a coincidence and a string of unrelated events” after an experienced ornithologist and other searchers hear DKs, kents and see a bird suggestive of only IBWO, all in seconds. Many researchers had multiple written sightings reports, hundreds of recordings of kents and DKs and other evidence in the same area over 16 months. It was repeatable. Quit lying that the sightings were not repeatable by multiple people.

Now coincidentally there are few if any sightings in the Choc FL and these diurnal frogs have also moved away along with all the ducks and bleating deer. These strange things make true skeptics squirm and say hey lets take a better look at all this. To false skeptics these facts are just things to be ignored and suppressed by all means possible. Logic is not allowed, its picture or no picture. Incidental facts that the average public will not care or hear about are easily dismissed so just wait it out, is their mantra.

True skeptics do not have to cling to impossible and therefore un-provable arguments such as PIWOs doing what we see in the AR Video and LA videos as far a flight characteristics (see Bill P. detailed work and other comments. And of course there is the silent hoping of the false skeptics that Collins goes away....with his unusual tapes as they call the bird a kingfisher.

Like in Jaws, “well, this is no boating accident”, well that’s no kingfisher (or Pileated or duck). The various wing beat frequency comments born during the Luneau debate have only been strengthened by the LA tape and we have seen various entrenched individuals run to the blackboard never to return.

There is also the hope that this strange piebald PIWO, that has a range of 100 acres, yet can never be refound as youz all say, is partially leucistic in the wings yet sometimes melanistic on the head (what a strange an unusual, perhaps never seen combination) shows up. But it never happens.

A true skeptic would also never suggest, as CT has said repeatedly, that there is no evidence. A true skeptic would never rush the difficult field work (and more importantly the construct that a species is extinct) when it is well documented that this species can disappear from even visual detection, let alone a picture, for multiple decades at a time.

And they ..…just might …just might….. spend a week in the field. This since they are open minded towards the fact that they too are subject to the psychological manifestations of group think, mistakes, biases, wishful thinking, and the egotistical need to be right.

And finally a true skeptic who also cares about conservation would also never be seemingly gleeful at a species possibly being called extinct prematurely, and would lend a hand once in awhile in any number of ways.

Good points US.

I call what some of these people do selective skepticism. They need everything easy to interpret when it comes to others claims on Ivory-billeds and other points but in fact when it comes to their preposterous proposals of deer fawns vocalizing and ducks knocking and all types of strangely patterned and plumaged Pileateds never seen before we must blindly accept these as seriously contending for the truth.

You forgot a few of their contentions such as tree creaking, only on windless days and frogs calling in the day.

They are funny though.

Keep it up!!!

How about the theory that the bird is still extant in extremely small numbers but not breeding which explains why no one has been able to locate a nest. This would explain sightings that are never able to be followed up with additional sightings. And yes, I am painfully aware that this means the bird is on the verge of extinction if not already gone.
Using the frequency of finding nests as a corollary to actual range wide breeding, seems intuitive but is fraught with pitfalls. I assume you meant “find a breeding pair, holed up and active around the hole for a few weeks”.

No doubt IBWOs’ roosts and perhaps a few nests have been walked or kayaked under. If the recognition or detection frequency by humans of nest locations is so low then it is quite possible to go many years without realizing a nest location. Additionally most searching does not occur in the nesting season.

IBWOs “nests” can only be detected by hearing a bird, seeing a bird multiple times to get vectors or finding the nest hole. Looking at these 3:

Per the literature IBWOs are exceedingly quiet around the nest hole, this from the 30s from the western part of its range. There is reason to believe that eastern birds were already more wary than western birds and Tanner was probably studying the least wary individuals left in the US.

IBWOs are not necessarily going to fly over and over the same person or researchers at the same location, same time every other day, to give clues to nest locations. There may have been some nesting in the Choctawhatchee that had multiple sighting in an ~18 month time period but these researchers had some unfortunate “methods”, a perhaps aggressive choice of a noisy camp site and were concentrating on erecting recorders and pursuing birds with cameras.

If a nest is found (without the finder realizing it) during the incubation period the bird and importance of the situation is basically undetectable for 99.99% of the day. We have heard of few promising tree holes that have been watched for more than a few hours let alone for several consecutive hours. Cams are usually set up on work or "promising" roosts of which there are thousands.

As we have seen the bird avoids humans as predators with good reason; there should be few IBWOs that are going to casually lead a pursuing human to a nest hole and then enter the hole while a person is within eye shot. 99%-100% percent of modern searchers can be waited out for the hour or two it would take them to wander away to another "interesting hole".

IBWOs may nest in late seral areas secluded from foot travel and March-May hunting, in seasonally flooded areas, in early leaf out periods and this makes if quite difficult to just stumble onto a nest undetected. Birds with genotypes that produced Singer-like behavior (slightly less wary) seem to have been in the minority even in the 30s and there is no reason to believe that basic math of gene frequencies and movement of this vagile species hasn’t panmixed eastern traits with western. Punctuated equilibrium, in a loose sense may have moved east to west.

Nesting of each pair may not occur every year. Today’s ecosystems, even in preserved areas are not the same as they were 500 years ago. Fire suppression, beetle infestation control, snag removal, short silviculture regimes, monoculture, etc.,lessen the food availability for hatchlings and decrease adults foraging success while decreasing fledgling rates and increasing nest predation.

This picture chase has really been counterproductive. If we had given these photographers, helicopter pilots, various employees, IBWO lovers, etc., axes and girdled several 100 acre patches each year, the IBWO should have been in better shape by 2010.

Good birdin’
I dispute pretty much everything you posit about the nature of this woodpecker and find the reasons you give as to why the IBWO has not been properly documented beyond credibility. Despite the erudition of your post and the overt use of the jargon of a professional biologist, I find it to be wholly without substance and not a little cranky.
>>I dispute pretty much everything<<

Bob, Wow.....if you actual had some facts that would make you the Undisputed Champion of Peckers. ha
I just noted an interesting coincidence: USDA, Ralph NJ, and Jay B all have the same profile link.

I like the post as Ralph NJ where he agrees with himself. Self-pwnage.

I find it more than coincidental that kents and double knocks have been heard by 20 different people, some experienced, and dozens also claim to have seen Ivory-billeds in one river system in Florida recently.

Do you have any reasonable explanation of why that river seems to have had this rash of sightings and sounds and some suggestive video and no other river in FL?

Could they be drinking the water to cause a mass halucination or maybe it's the vapors from the river that make these sounds and cause these sightings?

Also my blogger account is different than the other posters. Please be more careful. This need to know who is posting is odd.

See your profile is the same as most of the selective skeptics: You are all called Anonymous.

You have posted several times as bob and tom or whatever but there is not much content. Are you able to converse civily on things other than blog names or not?
Digging yourself in deeper, I'm afraid. Deleting the previous account (which you just did in response to my previous post) doesn't change the fact that the previous posts as USDA, Ralph NJ and JAY B were all performed by the same Blogger account, as indicated by their common links,


Deleting that account to attempt to cover your tracks, and then going on to pretend that you weren't using sock puppets, shows you to be continuing to be dishonest even when caught in the lie.

Sorry that you don't have a better grasp of this technology; it wouldn't have been difficult to set up sock puppets with separate accounts.
Your easy. It only took you 10 posts and a week to figure out the non-subliminal and obvious part of the experiment.

Now for the hidden message and the sprung trap. If only lab rats cooperated like this

It was easily anticipated that no false skeptic would discuss anything of substance. So a way to show a false skeptics hypocrisy and prejudices was devised.

Three different names at least would be used with similar message that included questions about the IBWO evidence. The messages would have a similar writing style to give a clue that it was possibly the same person. One post even used the same examples of evidence and were very similar.

The false skeptic behavioral tests were:

would the subject
1) attempt to answer the questions on Ivory-billed evidence or

2) attempt to answer the questions on IBWO evidence and ridicule the poster(s)

3) Answer nothing about Ivory-billeds and choose the easy personal attack and sharply ridicule

Dave or whoever did 3.

B) upon suspecting the same possible poster would the subject:

1) do the exact opposite of what they do with IBWO evidence.....that being would they scream bloody proof in a nanosecond that the three different names (representing different data sets) actually were being produced unequivocally by the same EXACT individual (a proxy for a single, rare species). This when they have no picture, blurry or otherwise, have no audio of any type, of the person or persons who were actually at the computer. There only evidence being a simple profile number that can be hacked or in error. Also there can easily be more than one person using a google account. Or it could have been a set up.

2) or would they propose all the other possible explanations for there being a common profile but different user names and be as open minded as they are when they include diurnal frogs, clapping wings, bleating deer, unknown to science, plumaged Pileateds, mass hallucinations, Pileateds with black heads, the fastest flapping Pileateds in the world, etc.

Dave or whoever did 1.

Punked. You passed, you are true false skeptic. This will work again I guarantee it.

There are other pre-clues that the test was on. Other Qs were also answered.

Any idea why one of the world leaders in flight dynamics says the Pearl tape is a large woodpecker that does not match any known flight bounding pattern for a Pileated?

False Skeptic Answer: Ya sure Ralph, USDA, fool etc. you had it all planned, you’re a computer illiterate; I, an IT god.

Good night
thangs just get krazier, and krrraaazier...
*jaw drops*

Let's see -- who has repeatedly accused others of sock-puppetry -- and has been caught in the very same act? This would fall squarely under the category of "projection." Needless to add, I have never created a sock puppet online, as I have not felt the need to create imaginary friends to agree with me.

What sort of person responds to getting caught in a lie by piling lie upon lie? Well, I'm not sure I have a term for that that would be appropriate for a civil discussion here.
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