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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, November 13, 2009


-- Pulliam et. al. +Addendum --


The majority of views coming into my mailbox as well as what I've seen on the Web (certainly not unanimous though) point to Red-headed Woodpecker as the ID for Mike Collins' Nov. 5 bird (even Mike has vacillated greatly on this video and directed folks back to one of his earlier videos as being 'stronger' evidence of IBWO). Bill Pulliam has begun weighing in as well, indicating a likely conclusion for RHWO --- he'll have more to say later:


While I continue to lean toward RHWO, my main point, as indicated early on, is that I don't believe it to be an Ivory-bill, whatever else it may be. Moreover, to be more blunt, after the first few days that this story played out I no longer needed to even view the video (let alone analyze it) to reach that conclusion, the tell-tale signs against it were so strong (I did continue to analyze it though to try and pinpoint what the species was). I don't expect an IBWO will be documented in the Pearl anytime in the near future, though other parts of La. may still be fertile ground.

*ADDENDUM*: Bill P. now adds a new post confirming, with analytical frame-by-frame comparison (of new Red-headed film), his firm belief that Mike's bird is a Red-headed Woodpecker:


We're probably rapidly reaching the 'time-to-move-along-folks-nothing-to-see-here' phase of this episode. (Actually, there are likely some worthwhile teachable moments that may come out of this, and I'm sure Bill will have more to say.) Where-to, next?
Mike Collins has posted some fresh new clips of red-headed woodpeckers for comparison, which remove virtually all remaining doubt I may have had about the identity of the bird in the Nov. 5 clip.
I am surprised that the video generated any discussion.

It's good to know though, that the thorough video analyses and math by the 'experts' are pointing to RHWO. I thought was going mad.

Did it really need all this?
It seems to me this episode has been a useful exercise, from which some people may have learned something. I don't see that any harm has been done.
Spatuletail, please be a good hummer...you little imp. You do have a point though.

11-5 Video. The speed of the two potential species can be calculated in minutes. Just measure the body lengths traveled per time and do the basic math. Results from days ago using only the last half (best)of frames:

16 mph RHWO (before adjustment, see below)
34 mph IBWO (before adjustment, see below)

The bird is losing altitude at an ~ 18 degree angle, so its speed should be adjusted upwards, since it covered more ground than some are calculating at BForum. Using the hypotenuse of an 18 degree right triangle the resultant is a 5 % adjustment.

I see Dave's Mich. good work. But do not see any mention of the bird dropping and its effect on flight characteristics which should be included in speed and Hz calculations and for nuanced discussion. Result:

17 mph RHWO
36 mph IBWO

As far as either of these numbers ruling one species out……that claim would be suspect. Both values look fine on paper. Looking at the video though one can ask themselves is that a RHWO doing 17 mph or is that a 36 mph IBWO?

As far as the ~ 6 Hz wing beat seen……….one can include what has been told to us by the film's taker in previous video interpretations and heuristic assertions. IBWOs’ in level flight can show 6 Hz. The 2004 AR video shows 8.7 in a bird leveling off, or level but initially fleeing the gabby, canoeists. Singer tract evidence reports an ~ 8.6 Hz for a bird soon after launch.

Would an alleged IBWO dropping at ~18 degrees be still doing 6 Hz when that is the previous asserted Hz for level, purposeful IBWO Hz? Maybe……but it doesn’t perfectly fit the premises brought out by members of the “IBWO Wing Beat Frequency Club”, of which I have attended a few meetings…………. but not this one.

Red-heads seem to be ~ 8 Hz in the level videos I see. A 6 Hz for a dropping bird, as in this video, seems feasible. In the whole context of the video it has dropped quite a few feet in the few seconds involved and may be contemplating a landing. Scary mathematicians, unexpectedly up in trees, can do that.

The Bird Frontiers post asserting similar wing shapes I find frightening.........although it moved someone at Researchers Forum.

Regardless of anything said here.....the prior meeting minutes of the IBWO Wing Beat Frequency Club are not rejected.

The whole assertion of a PIWO doing the Hz and no wing bounding we see in the 2004 tape and showing what we see in the 2008 tape is beyong tenuous. PIWO is a common bird but I have yet to see anything like the contextual Hz shwown in the 2004 and 2008 videos but portrayed by a PIWO in videos or in the field.

Do you have any PIWO videos showing 8.7 Hummer? We have been waiting sooo looong we will even take it if a circus cannon's barrel is wrapped around it, before u start counting.


F A Virrazzi
EJS says: "It seems to me this episode has been a useful exercise, from which some people may have learned something. I don't see that any harm has been done."

I agree there is usefulness, but the one downside is that such episodes as this make it just that much harder for future independent claims to be taken seriously within various quarters.
I fail to see the usefelness and I agree with Cyberthrush

A blurry video of a distant RHWO has been posted by someone who has repeatedly denigrated the better field birders of the U.S. and who has already claimed to have better experience of IBWO than any other living ornithologist. We've had numerous blurry stills, mathematical analyses and video analyses and the 'experts' have finally got up to speed and posted their belated 'confirmation' of what was apparent from the start.
Hope springs eternal, is my takeaway lesson. That's not such a bad thing. I will admit that it seems surprising that Mike Collins would be so excited about a RHWO video, as he has observed so many of these birds over the last several years of intensive effort. Did he visually observe the bird that he was recording in video? I have not seen any commentary on his direct observation of this bird. Maybe just as well -- he reported his observation of the bird in his 2008 "IBWO" video to be a Wood Duck, so it took a bit of back pedaling to get to IBWO from there.

I am more surprised that Fred Virrazzi has chosen to resurface here after so thoroughly embarrassing himself earlier on this blog. I did not think that he could be so shameless. Shamelessness, though, is an adaptive trait that many species can benefit from. I am impressed that he is willing to post using his own identity, however.
>>>seems surprising Collins would be so excited about a RHWO video, as he has observed so many of these birds over the last several years of intensive effort.<<<,

Error in assumption. RHWO as most know, can vary greatly in wintering numbers in the US and LA due to many factors. I believe this is the greatest Pearl influx in several years. Collins was evidently not aware of the video possibilities since he had not accumulated any RHWO video collection and they have been uncommon or rare in the Pearl prior.

The rest of this post is mostly IBWO content free; I apologize for this parAGRAPH. Proceed at your own waste of time.

We will let others decide who is shameless as you bust in, late in the game here, and ask questions that are up thread, as if we are your servants.

Readers can decide who is acting shamelessly when posts are forced upon the blog that disparage people making a conservation effort on their own time while YOU find it so noble to snipe.

We will also let readers decide who might be shamelessly trying to ruin a basically civil conversation to this point.

And we will let them see who has tried to respect them, the Blog owner and netiquette by letting this unprovoked personal attack go relatively unavenged.

To rehash for the morbidly bored, Mr. David Leahy is evidently still upset with me; months ago he came in late in a thread as he has done here, and unwittingly wandered into a simple, and tongue-in-cheek exercise. He was displeased with the results. The exercise was done on those screaming "why is there no IBWO pix, it should be easy".

When his own portfolio was examined at the time, it was found to be dominated by feeder birds, ducks and shorebirds. No Black Rails, even Pileateds, or quality Parulidae pixs were to be found. The "study" concluded that he might be less critical of others efforts until he got some direct experience with photographing harder quarry including upper story birds of SE swamps.

Your serve.


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