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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

Thursday, November 05, 2009


-- The Pearl, Once Again --


For anyone not reading the comments sections here, and thus unaware, Mike C. has posted recent video from the Pearl (La.) which he believes to be of Ivory-bills. Go to this link and scroll down to 11/3 - 11/4 posts:


Certain frames/aspects of the clips are interesting (indeed, the more I watch the more intrigued I am, while also having doubts). We may be headed once again straight into Luneau-video unresolvable la-la land, but will be curious to see what various others have to say, and interested to see what Mike uncovers on follow-up visits to same area (...or has this nomadic bird already moved 5 miles up the road ;-)
I would be interested to hear some comments on the video.
Mike is certainly more familiar with the context of the videos, not all of which can be conveyed through his posts. I don't have the experience of someone like Bill Pulliam in analyzing video, so you can take my point of view as that of a hack.

In the first video from his 11-3 post, we seem to see the bird's underside as it banks to the right, giving us only a ventral view. I think the bird is backlit, and if so we need to evaluate what we are seeing in that context and understand that what appears to be dark isn't necessarily so. The body appears to be all-dark. In one frame, I can kind of see a dark bar between white underwing linings and secondaries which would be distinctive if not an artifact of the video or my imagination. I can't see black outer primaries, however. In other frames, the wing linings appear black with backlit white secondaries and primaries (again with no black outer primaries visible to my eye). I think having wing linings appear black is certainly possible in bad light. The wings are perhaps a little shorter than I expect from Tanner photos.

The lighting is tricky - careful analysis might tell us more about what it is not, but I don't think it would tell us what it actually is. This is analysis is kind of just for fun, as the video isn't clear enough to convince the world, but I credit Mike for a) busting his butt (or more specifically various other body parts) and taking alot of time sitting in trees in his search and b) making his videos available on his website.
My assessment is similar to that of Emupilot. All the video clips other than the first have too much glare and reflection for me to make out much in terms of field marks, though I do see interesting flashes of white. The first clip, which contains two complete wingbeat cycles in the time the bird is not obscured by trees, is the most compelling to me, but the lighting is tricky. The first frame in which the underwing is visible seems to have captured the wing near the top of its stroke. The underwing looks almost completely white, with perhaps a trace of a dark median bar. The wing seems much narrower here than in the ensuing two frames, so I’m not sure we are seeing the entire underwing surface. The next two frames apparently show both wings from the undersde, with only light color all the way to the trailing edges, and no black rim. The leading edge appears dark, but not all the way to the tips of the primaries. It’s difficult to say how much of the light-colored appearance of the primaries and secondaries may be due to light transmission through the wing feathers, but they appear much brighter than the background. The impression I get is of an extensive white trailing edge.

One thing it might be possible to determine from this clip and the “chase” portion of the video are the relative wingspans of the hawk and the bird in question. If the size is approximately right, and if Mike is right about features of the flight being characteristic of woodpeckers, then it may come down to whether or not a pileated woodpecker underwing can look like that. I am skeptical that it can.
What about the 11/5 post?
Forgot to mention, I also agree with emupilot in commending Mike for sharing his video, almost in real-time.

His entry for today, just posted, is "Got that sucker". I wonder what that means...
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Mike has now posted a teaser frame from new video he filmed yesterday and hasn't posted yet, and says other frames show much more detail. The frame he has posted seems to show a black median bar and black outer primaries to my eye, but I would think the frame would have enough resolution so we'd see a long neck and head. We'll see soon enough, I suppose, since Mike isn't one to sequester his images.
This morning, I obtained footage that is a few additional quantum levels better, confirms what I have been saying about flap style and flap rate...

11-6-09. Other frames show much more detail and key characteristics of the bird, but this frame gives an indication why Audubon said, "The flight of this bird is graceful in the extreme."

So, we're going to see something that is undeniably an Ivorybill. I can't wait. It's taken so long. Perseverance has finally paid off and the doubters have been proved wrong.
"So, we're going to see something that is undeniably an Ivorybill. I can't wait. It's taken so long. Perseverance has finally paid off and the doubters have been proved wrong."

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Mike's has been personally certain of what he has seen before, but his videos haven't been high enough resolution for the rest of us who lack the rest of the context of his encounters. This could be his best quality video yet, but that doesn't necessarily mean institutional acceptance.
why the lack of comments?

- people don't want to speculate about what we'll be seeing shortly
- before publicly releasing the video, Mike is sharing the video with a few people who might otherwise comment here
- we're the only ones who don't have stuff to do on a Friday night!

Thankfully, Mike is not Cornell. He is not secretive and he is very forthcoming with the results of his work. We'll know the story soon.
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