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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, 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.
Check out the bit of art that accompanies BirdLife's announcement of its involvement.

That is really a remarkable illustration (or photo?) of an Ivory-billed woodpecker they have on that web page--Julie mentioned above, detail
It looks like a photograph, but I sure have not seen any bona fide color photos of a living IBWO before--I was not aware any existed.
The credit is to Tomasz Cofta, apparently a Polish illustrator and photographer. I wonder if it is a Photoshopped illustration based on a photo of another species--that is what it looks like to me. Not sure though--anybody have any information?
Now I'm confused. Julie, is that your art work of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker? That seems to be what you are saying above. If so, the credit is incorrect.
Julie had sent me a further note, indicating that she believes it is a photo of a Pileated doctored to look like an IBWO (no, not her own artwork). She has actually written BirdLife for further clarification as she finds the pic rather misleading.
If she relays their response on to me I'll pass it along, or maybe she will respond here herself.
p.s... my own guess, as I told Julie, is that the BirdLife editors will probably say that such created illustrations are common to the internet, and they barely gave it a second thought (just my guess). Of course one can argue about the wisdom/confusion of doing so in this particular instance.
Wow, that is incredibly misleading on two counts:
1-It makes it look like there are recent color photos of the IBWO of such quality, which there are not. (The image is clearly recent, and not a vintage photo from the 1930's, say--the high speed exposure, and the digital noise in the background--instead of grain--make it look, to me, like a digital photo.)

2-The body and wing shape really do look like those of a Pileated. I would expect there to be some distinctive IBWO features, such as long primaries, visible in a genuine photo of this quality. (Take a look at some of the best photo of the Singer Tract IBWO in flight--the bird looks quite different from a PIWO.)

This reminds me of some Cornell web pages trumpeting the "rediscovery", where they put up a colorized photo of a Singer Tract bird--they should have put up a blob from the Luneau video--that would have been the honest thing to do.
I'm going to go out on a limb here. The illustrator, Tomasz Cofta, has done a lot of work on Polish birds (here). On the Internet, I see photos of Black Woodpeckers, Dryocopus martius, from Poland. I'm guessing that the Birdlife International illustration is an altered photo of a Black Woodpecker, which is almost all black. It would be pretty easy to add in white and red on the "correct" places to make it look like an IBWO. In fact, this would be easier than starting with a photo of a PIWO, which has lots of white in the "wrong" places.
A guess!

I think I'm going to disagree, too, that this sort of thing is "OK because it is common on the Internet". I don't think doctored photos are all that common on the Internet, especially photojournalism or nature photography. Adding field marks to make one bird appear to be another--I've not seen it, except as a joke. (Editing to remove imperfections, adjusting contrast, etc., is common, but that is quite different.) Such doctoring of a photo is a clear violation of ethics in photojournalism.
Wasn't it not that many years ago that some photojournalist for one of the major services was fired for making some really small change, like removing an inconveniently placed power pole? I would guess the creators of the press release were not aware of the role of suspected and proven forgery of photos in the turbulent history of this species, as recently as just a few months ago.
Folks are ultra-sensitive I s'pose to anything Ivory-bill... I agree the pic should've been labeled as a created image, but also think it's more ado over little; just someone probably (innocently) wanting a pretty illustration to accompany a news release.
Years ago when I adopted the logo for this blog, someone immediately emailed me excitedly asking if that was a photo of a recently found nest and birds --- it never occurred to me that someone might mistake the pic as real and recent and I'd only labeled it "picture courtesy of Julie Zickefoose;" I suspect BirdLife's faux pas was just as unthinking, even though I understand people's concerns.
Since BirdLife is a British organization, might be interesting to hear from some of our Brit friends about the use of contrived images by the press in their part of the world.
Check out the t-shirt I got

Martin, I'm very pleased to see that it says "Lost?" and not "Extinct?" ;-)
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