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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, August 31, 2009


-- Too Good Not To Pass Along (OT) --


Michael Jordan, eat your heart out....

... Now if only they could dribble!

Sunday, August 30, 2009


-- Hmmmm.... --


Curiouser and curioser?...

Just noticed that David Luneau's controversial video, which instigated much of the Ivory-bill debate we are now embroiled in, seems to have been taken down from YouTube, at least as a stand-alone video clip. Nor could I find it on David Luneau's own website (at one time I think he owned the copyright to it --- but not sure if that's still the case or if Cornell controls it at this point???). In a cursory search I couldn't find the video available anywhere by itself, except as linked to from the original Science Magazine article link below (I assume it is still embedded in many longer presentations of the Ivory-bill saga):


Possibly someone is simply exercising their intellectual property rights and having the clip removed from places where it was never given authorization for use, although one wonders why they waited this long to do so...?

The problem is, it feeds the sort of fears Louis Bevier had expressed well back, when Mary Scott suddenly took down much of her long-standing Ivory-bill material from the Web, and he wondered aloud if in the future, IBWO claims, evidence, arguments made and never confirmed, would simply disappear into cyber-thin-air as if they never existed, like so many evanescent 1's and 0's trailing off into shadowland.

"P. Coin" has also pondered elsewhere whether we would see, over ensuing time, the gradual disappearance of many of the Web-based presentations promoting the last 4 years of the Ivory-bill enterprise. (There is always the Web's archival "Wayback Machine," but it has limitations.)

For obvious reasons, both historical and scientific, much of this material needs to remain intact and accessible, but time will tell... in many ways, the Internet remains a whole new ballgame.

Friday, August 28, 2009


-- Tennessee Tensions --


In a story not dissimilar to some others I've heard the last couple years, Bill Pulliam recounts (in an unvarnished manner and lengthy post) some of the friction between Cornell-ites and others in the quest for the Ghost Bird, and also elaborates on some of the Tennessee sounds of interest: HERE

(...I'm reminded a tad here of an old George Carlin routine regarding my stuff versus your stuff... but, I won't go there. ;-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


-- ...Digression --


From Ted Kennedy's eulogy to brother Bobby 40+ years ago....


Tuesday, August 25, 2009


-- Another Pic For Folks To Be Concerned Over ;-) --


Here...: http://tinyurl.com/lczgzm [addendum: the felonious photo has now been replaced]

And another installment of Bill P.'s tenuously tantalizing Tennessee tracking tale HERE.

...Seriously, I want to again thank Bill for offering his readers more of the flavor of the official search process than other participants have been willing or free to do (maybe they are all saving up their material for future books).

Monday, August 24, 2009


-- Just to Clarify --


Thanks to Mike B., Pat C., and Julie Z. for all forwarding along the (virtually identical) responses they got from BirdLife on the controversial IBWO image commented upon in the prior post. I assume it will be ok to quote a bit of the response (from BirdLife) for clarity to everyone:

"...this is a painting, done in photoshop... it’s certainly not our intention to mislead people with this illustration. When printed or at a reasonable size this is obviously a painting. Perhaps the small size on the web site is less clear!"

I hope this satisfies everyone that there was no ill or surreptitious intent on the part of BirdLife in using the image to accompany their news release; at worst, just an unintentional lapse in judgment (and I'm not sure it was even that). I'm bettin' the BirdLife editor was a bit surprised by the mini-flurry of inquiries. Methinkest we're all a bit hyper (in different ways and directions) on the subject of the Ivory-bill ;-)

Friday, August 21, 2009


-- BirdLife International --


With the Cebu Flowerpecker (here and here) as a motivator, sounds like prestigious BirdLife International may take a more active role in the search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (as well as other "lost" species). If any reader knows greater details of this endeavor love to hear of it (email or comment section)....

Bill Pulliam's experience continues here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


-- Pics and Sound --


"Fangsheath" over at IBWO Researchers Forum has located on the Web HERE over 100 photos from Tanner's original Singer Tract study as archived at the Louisiana Digital Library (a lot more photos than commonly found in most IBWO books or websites). While they don't add a great deal to our knowledge of Ivorybills or to the modern-day story, still another treasure-trove to hark one back to another time and place. Thanks for all your good work/research Fang!

And Bill Pulliam continues his chronicle of the search for the 'ghost bird' in Tennessee at his blog.

(I won't necessarily cite every posting Bill puts up, but his basic plan seems to be to post each Tue. and Fri., or thereabouts, at least through the end of this month, so be sure to follow along, with or without a link from here.)

Friday, August 14, 2009


-- "Too Much White..." --


Bill P. takes us into the weekend once again with his 2 most recent IBWO posts (yesterday and today) up at his blog:


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


-- Scramblin' Bill --


Bill Pulliam's latest entry HERE recounting the pursuit of double-knocks in Tennessee.

I commend Bill for fleshing out in greater detail than others have done a bit of the ground search as it proceeded in his home state. Hmmm... anyone with the South Carolina team care to do the same??? ;-)

-- Just For Fun and Diversion (OT) --


.... a couple of things worth trying before summer is over:

... and, speaking of bubbles ;-)


Sunday, August 09, 2009


-- Of Bubbles (...some musings) --


4 years ago I mentioned to someone associated with the official Ivory-bill search the need to better address criticism/skepticism that was emanating over the Web; I thought it was having a growing impact on the birding community (and others), and that various critiques/speculations ought be directly confronted.
I was told that my concern was overblown and the Web had little impact on what people thought about the IBWO claims... was told that when search principals traveled around the country giving talks they were never asked about the sorts of issues being raised on the internet; that such skepticism was barely on the public radar, and would quickly fade away.... so I was informed 4 years ago.

That was when I first realized that Cornell and others were living in their own bubble, so non-cognizant were they of the impact the internet could (and would) have. To this day, I'm not sure but that many of those principals don't still reside in a bubble of their own making, little realizing the degree of disappointment, cynicism, even indignation, that permeates much of the larger birding and science community, over the results and poor communication across 4+ years of study. That doesn't mean that there aren't many in the birding/science community who don't still believe the IBWO does or could persist; it just means a large segment of the audience, who expected better, were left frustrated by some of those in charge who's own competency through this venture might now be questioned (p.s: none of this is meant to be critical of the many volunteers and ground people/technicians who put in countless hours of monumental work to fulfill procedures/protocols as formulated).

For Cornell, USFW, the Nature Conservancy, I don't know if they understand yet the box they've put themselves in: if the Ivory-bill is never found and conclusively documented, doubts about the integrity/wisdom of this entire enterprise will linger (for some) years into the future; and if the species is found and documented (by an independent) that may speak even louder volumes about the (in)adequacy of those who headed up this particular effort (one would like to think they were the 'best and the brightest' with the most resources, but perhaps not). They have plowed a deep trench to now try to dig out from... even if in the end the answer is simply that the bird is so rare, and traversing through such vast tracts of fragmented wilderness, that documenting it conclusively requires even more time and resources than available.

I still believe the Ivory-bill may yet be documented, but if it is, one wonders if the officials who headed up the last 4 years are up to the task of its further study, management, and conservation --- should the Ivory-bill ever be found it's tempting to ponder whether it might not be time to let one of the major international bird/conservation groups, who routinely tackle such endeavors, take over the process (although there's too much money and publicity at stake for those invested to ever hand-off the project to others). Or... maybe the principals did as good a job as was humanly possible... and the bird just ain't there. But someone still has to convince me of that.

Friday, August 07, 2009


-- More Tennessee/Pulliam --


Bill Pulliam takes us into the weekend with his 3rd installment of a series --- this time recounting his "otherworldly, exhilarating, and disorienting" March '08 auditory encounter with repeated "BAMbam" sounds in western Tennessee:



Thursday, August 06, 2009


-- Auburn Update --


Geoff Hill's latest update from the Auburn effort in the Choctawhatchee region of the Florida Panhandle is up now HERE.

Needless to say, no luck during the '08-'09 season efforts which were largely based on the placement of newly-designed automatic cameras, which unfortunately continued to have a high (50%) failure rate (they are working on some tweaks that will hopefully improve that situation).

Dr. Hill reports at one point:

"In short, our experience over the past year indicates that ivorybills have moved out of the areas where we encountered them from 2005 to 2008. That’s as much as I can say with any confidence. There is no way to know whether the birds are in different areas in the Choctawhatchee Basin, different forests in the region, or dead."

And then adds more optimistically:

"I’m not pessimistic about the situation yet. We know almost nothing about the remnant population of ivorybills on the Florida panhandle. The few birds that were in the vicinities of Bruce Creek and Old Creek from 2005 to 2008 may simply be up or down the river (where we never venture) or in some beetle-killed stand of timber in the region. I have to assume that one of these months we will again detect them in the area that we monitor."

Hill will continue occasional scouting trips to the area and monitoring of automatic cameras, though his chief technician, Brian Rolek, has graduated and will be moving on. Hill reports he won't be posting any more updates at that particular website, but obviously if THE photo should arrive the news will be released to all.

Meanwhile, Mike Collins has commenced reporting for a new search season at the Pearl (La.) HERE.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


-- Tennessee cont'd. --


While the silence is deafening on most fronts, Bill Pulliam continues relating his account of IBWO searching in western Tenn. with another installment here:


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