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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

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


-- Going Forward, Looking Backward --


Quite awhile back I told someone, only half in jest, that I had deliberately tried, at one point or another, to offend everyone in the Ivory-bill debate --- ascribing that as the best way to maintain my own independence and non-favoritism.

Looking back with 4+ years hindsight, it's now even easier, if one so chose, to take to task various organizations, people, methods that have been part of this story. And before it's over there may be some semi-bloodletting amongst various participants themselves over the non-stellar results of the last 4 years... there is blame to go around in what has been a complicated and controversial process.

It remains difficult to believe that the Ivory-bill still persists and simultaneously believe that the official search process was well and methodically executed. And I'm not even someone who requires a drop-dead indisputable photo of the bird to be persuaded; I just need to see that over time an increased number of credible sightings are coming forth (an increased number of putative sounds, foraging sign, and cavities would be nice to go along, as well) --- that doesn't seem like too much to ask for; indeed it seems pretty minimum for a 4-year effort.

If the Ivory-bill is yet documented I'm not sure there can be much success going forward with its conservation (it's simply, regrettably too late, and I doubt the will exists for the sort of large-scale land preservation/management needed), but maybe we can learn something looking backward (which will assist future cases) to understand how such a lengthy massive failure could have occurred in the first place (if that is indeed what has transpired).

....and Bill P.'s latest blog entry, of Tennessee and djembes, here:


A good article in the NYT about Cook and Perry's claims to have reached the North Pole in 1909:
A Clash of Polar Frauds...
The believers who have kept writing books and mounting expeditions to vindicate Cook or Peary resemble the political partisans recently studied by psychologists and sociologists. When the facts get in the way of our beliefs, our brains are marvelously adept at dispensing with the facts.

I think it is fascinating that the two camps, "Cook" and "Perry" exist 100 years later, people presenting new arguments to back the dubious claims of each, and emotions still running high. The parallels with political beliefs, held in the face of all evidence, are also striking!
>>>"Cook" and "Perry"<<<

To compare the present day experts and authors, who after a few weeks "mastered" wing beat frequencies video artifacts imaginary) and now trees in such a way.....well its just a disgrace!!

And don't disparage them for spending at least 66 minutes in the field when you can't be bothered and you live right near some good spots.

Well, I don't know if the above remarks were intended for me, but I will say that I have been keeping my eyes and ears out for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker for the last forty years! I have, in the past few years, been birding in many spots that are good habitat, and where there have been rumors of reports and visits by "searchers". These include Johnathan Dickinson State Park (right before a publicized report in the 1980's), Florida, Congaree National Park, SC, Four Hole Swamp in SC, and Green Swamp and the Cape Fear Basin in NC. I have seen plenty of great flora and fauna, including some rarities, and gotten my share of chigger and mosquito bites, but I have not heard any "possible Campepilus DK's" or seen any Pileated Woodpeckers with "way too much white". I can only speak from my experience, but it is certainly not fair to say that I have no experience in IBWO habitat. Maybe I just don't have the right "searcher" attitude. If only I just believed that any bird I did not see well could be an IBWO, or any odd sound I did not recognize could be an IBWO vocalization.

My point about Cook and Perry was that partisans are still arguing about the validity of their poorly-documented claims 100 years later. There is even a parallel involvement of the National Geographic Society with the dubious polar claims of Perry and the dubious IBWO claims of Cornell et al. The parallels to the IBWO "rediscovery" are just too striking! I'm sure people will be dredging at this stuff for years to come, but is it really worth the effort? The USFWS still seems to be expending funds on "searching". Is that really a good thing for conservation at this point?
As far as I am aware, and I certainly don't know all there is to know, there is no more federal money earmarked for Ivorybill searching in the future. I believe the talk of large ongoing federal expenditures for Ivorybill hunts belongs right alongside Sarah Palin's talk of death panels.
I'm semi-guessing here, but there are funds being expended on certain ecological studies of IBWO-like habitat, so the confusion may be that while such funds are not being spent directly on the search, they are being spent as a result of prior IBWO claims or possibilities, and any findings would certainly pertain to IBWO management were the species ever confirmed in the area.
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