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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, October 09, 2009


-- Fading Interest --


The Ivory-bill story wanes. Readership at this blog is at it's lowest nadir in a long time, the last two "open threads" drawing no responses. Comments to Bill Pulliam's extended account of the Tennessee search have been few and far between (much to my surprise). The main BirdForum.net thread on the IBWO is running out of steam at close to 14,000 posts, and posts at IBWO Researchers Forum run slow as well. Meanwhile, Cornell seems to be tiptoeing away from the story (their final report could be an interesting read in word-parsing!). Even new claims, sightings, sounds, will likely evoke only yawns from an audience largely worn out.

Bobby Harrison and his Ivory-bill Foundation vow to plow onward as time permits. Mike Collins continues his quest in the Pearl River area, and other independents operate elsewhere with less publicity. Many still hold out the greatest hope for South Carolina's Congaree region; for myself, parts of Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana still seem the most interesting (but based on nothing concrete). Even the Missouri-Illinois-Tennessee corridor intrigues, as no one has ever adequately explained where the final Singer Tract IBWOs withdrew to as the Singer Tract was being cut over. If the birds flew north and established themselves it might readily explain why no one has seen them for 60 years, as they weren't looked for there.

Messages/sightings to my email continue to trickle in as well, but nothing at all substantive (which is to say nothing more substantive than what has gone before, and mostly less so). In short, despite many of us still believing some birds are likely out there, patience and hope in the broader public has largely run its course. If the birds are found it will be that much grander and splendid of a story now; INCREDIBLE to most minds... and, if they are never found it may be an albatross (so to speak) around the neck of ornithology and conservation for years to come.

Come January, it will be interesting to see how much field work (and where) is generated in the next search season.
There's still a fair amount of interest out there, it's just gotten more quiet. Each of the video clips I post is getting around 1000 views in its first week, which I take as a good measure of my total regular readership; most of these people seem to come via this site so your readership is probably even higher. Think of it this way: If you were giving short talks at a nature center twice a week, and 1000 people showed up to hear each one, you'd consider the series a phenomenal success, right?

Without Federal money next year some search activities will still continue at a reduced and/or refocused level. There are still State nongame money, private sponsors, and individuals donating their own time and resources.
If it's still out there, it will be found again someday. All of the efforts to-date, some labor-intensive and others technically innovative, are part of a trial and error process that will aide in studying the bird in the future. And if it's never seen again, we'll have been greatly entertained.

I remember the reintroduction of the wolf to Yellowstone in 1995. Boy, was that iffy, and with a lot of human opposition. Now there are 800 wild wolves in neighboring Idaho and wolf hunting has resumed (distasteful, but indicative of success). Anyway, despite what your local fundraiser says, optimists have a better track record in the past few decades than pessimists.
"Optimists have a better track record in the past few decades than pessimists." Exactly!

Whenever I get discouraged by anything these days I remind myself: We have an African American President named Barack Hussein Obama for freaking-heaven's sake! In my lifetime! WTF!?! And he just won the Nobel Peace Prize! And he spoke in Arabic in Cairo! In my lifetime!!!

Think of all the intelligent, peace-loving, tolerant Americans toiling tirelessly in the wilderness for 8 years, sure that they were strangers in their own country. It seemed like they were silent most of the time, too. It seemed like there weren't many of them, and like no one listened when they bothered to speak up. Almost no one I know even was aware of Air America Radio when it debuted, and now we have Senator Al Franken and influential news-goddess Rachel Maddow.

I just visited the Cache River area today, at the end of my annual long vacation, dragging my long-suffering 80-year-old mother with me. My camera didn't work, but I didn't expect to see anything anyway. It took me all these years to make the trip. Still, the Ivory-Bill is always on my mind, and I know they are out there. Keep the faith! As the Who's said on that dust speck: "We are here! We are here! We are heeeere!"

Thanks for all you do. - Julie in PA
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