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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






Tuesday, October 13, 2009

 

-- Crying Wolf? --

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Bill Pulliam opens the week with a long Tennessee post and some interesting tidbits (...including the possibility of Pied-billed Grebes 'kenting') here:

http://bbill.blogspot.com/2009/10/onward-in-fog.html

And thanks to all who have recently sent along to me some positive or optimistic feedback re: the IBWO searches... but... here's the thing: As indicated in previous posts the troubling part for me is not the lack of a glossy photo, the lack of a nesthole found, the lack of DNA evidence... no, the troubling part is that after 4+ years of supposedly methodical effort we are not seeing an increased number of sightings, especially not lengthier sightings and ones by people of established skill levels. More sounds, more brief and fleeting glimpses, or claims from individuals of uncertain knowledge/experience, yes, but at the 4+ year-point one might expect more. Nothing on an automatic camera, nothing resulting from a $50,000 reward offer, nothing from rapid followups to sound detections. Either the birds aren't there, or they are in such miniscule numbers as to be hopeless, or, the search planning and effort has been a travesty... unless the final reports, when issued, sway me otherwise, that is all I can conclude for now. And, sad to say, of those alternatives, I'd prefer to believe that the search process has been a travesty... but that would be too easy and unfair of a conclusion based on mere hindsight and judgment from a distance, so I can't do that either.

One reason many were skeptical early-on of the Big Woods claims, is that throughout the 50's, 60's, 70's several individuals closely followed up (on the ground) IBWO claims and always came up empty (as far as definitive confirmation is concerned); it happened again following Kulivan's 1999 Louisiana sighting. And now yet once more we go through it again... tempting, tantalizing, enticing hints of something in black-and-white haunting the forest depths, yet always just out of reach. At some point it gets more and more difficult to find fault with the doubters (even though I still think them wrong) and more and more easy to find fault with a process that can't 'close the deal.' The sheer expanse of the land tracts involved may account for the results, but it gets harder and harder to rely on that as a sole explanation, as well.
We all learn early in life, from a fable, that you can only cry 'wolf' so many times before people begin ignoring you (we believers are stretching the limits)... all I can say though, is that one ought not forget, as is easy to do, that at the very end of that famous fable... there really is a wolf.

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Comments:
Before someone accuses me of also believing that the U.S. gov't. is hiding dead aliens at Area 51, can we all agree that it's POSSIBLE that organizations like Cornell, USFWS, Nature Conservancy, etc., have rock-solid evidence of the IBWP's continued existence and are keeping it something akin to a state secret? :-)
 
There would be absolutely no reason for them to do this. Given all the flak they have taken for wasting public money on a supposed snipe hunt, why on earth would they conceal the evidence that the expenditures were in fact fully justified? What would that level of secrecy serve? Birders did not swarm to the Big Woods or Choc or anywhere else in disruptive numbers; there's no need for such secrecy to protect the birds. As far as I can tell not one single birder has "flocked" to Moss Island in response to my blog; heck, even the birders who routinely drive right past the entrance on Great River Road just about every weekend while hitting the hot spots for waders STILL don't even make a slight detour one mile off their usual route to just take a quick peek! Sure, if the big wigs had a nest they'd conceal the location of the nest, but there's nothing to gain and much to lose by entirely concealing the very *existence* of the nest.

I'm afraid the "top secret" Ivorybills are riding on the backs of unicorns and being serenaded by mermaids.
 
Agreed, the chance of there being 'rock-solid' IBWO evidence being held secretly is right on a par with the chance of those dead Area 51 aliens being stored in a gov't. vault... and slightly less than the chance that Dick Cheney originally was one of those Area 51 aliens...
 
There are many entities/individuals involved with the IBWO each with their own missions, goals, and internal struggles to convert them to pubilc relations.

There is no one size fits all, when it comes to what information is or is not determined to be worth public dissemination and best for the IBWO from certain entities. It is a provable fact that a fraction of information is reaching the public (my files attest to this as I have received anonymous mailings).

High ranking govt. officials have seen the bird and their pensions are safe, with no need for them to automatically rush pixs/evidence into the light to save their jobs. Some of you give too much credit to skeptics and their cumulative impact on spending. The lack of finding a cooperative population to study is what slows money flow not complaints from authors of the 47th field guide to trees. You also exaggerate the utility of a picture which only proves one bird in one spot with more steps needed to even prove a population let alone conserve the species.

Skeptics are laughed at in certain circles when institutional knowledge is coupled with personal field sightings, the AR video and related BRC vote, the LA and FL reports and video, and the flawed/weak Science paper rebutals (Sibley et al. and Collinson papers) and other sophomoric treatments of heuristic wing beat frequencies.

Granted some of us believe that no single or collection of definitive pictures exists but this belief can easily be wrong for a specific location or two in a recent year for a place that has gone cold or needs further acquisition attention.

In addition some "land owners" have told the "serfs" to destroy evidence or at least sight reports for specific reasons logical to them and not necessarily us.
 
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