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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 27, 2009


-- "Sightings" (Sam Keen) --


It occurs to me, as a sidenote, with this extended coverage of the Tennessee search, that it might be fitting to make mention of author Sam Keen's tale from his small 2007 volume "Sightings," recounting a childhood experience from 1942 near Pikeville, Tennessee, of witnessing the possible shooting of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker by young hunters ("The Lord God Bird," next-to-last chapter of the book). Pikeville is in Bledsoe County (eastern TN.) FAR from the western locale of Bill Pulliam's activities, and though the storyline is true, Keen makes no pretense that his childhood memory of the bird possibly being an Ivory-bill (rather than a Pileated) has any strong credibility to it... but hey, still an interesting read, as is the rest of the slim volume of birding experiences.

ADDENDUM: Someone has asked if I could elaborate on the story Keen tells since they don't have access to his book... I hesitate to even lend it that much attention, but briefly...: as an 11-year-old birdwatcher in 1942 living near Knoxville, and enamored with the story of the Ivory-bill, Keen makes the acquaintance of a 17-year-old girl who tells him that the swamps around her home near Pikeville have Ivory-bills --- and she continues to insist so after he explains about the look-alike Pileated Woodpecker. Over an Easter vacation he gets to visit her home and venture into the woods with her squirrel-hunting brothers who, knowing of his interest in seeing an IBWO, spot one and shoot it for him. The rest is a bit of a blur... he retrieves the bird and takes some of its feathers for his collection but buries the badly-damaged carcass, uncertain which species it is, both thrilled by the idea it could be an IBWO, yet trembling at the thought that he might be complicit in the needless death of such a creature. In retrospect (the story was composed more than 60 years after the incident), Keen affirms he thinks that the bird was almost certainly a Pileated, but still has that gnawing question of what if?
(Pikeville, BTW, is not near any known prior historically-established population of IBWO.)
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