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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






Sunday, August 09, 2009

 

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

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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.
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