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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

Sunday, November 08, 2009


-- Where To Now??? --


Mike C. has additionally eliminated the Nov. 5 video bird from contention as an Ivory-bill (another Red-headed Woodpecker? -- Addendum: Mike now doubts the likelihood of this bird being a RHWO; other suggestions have also been made; I suspect continuing analysis may reach some general consensus but still not be definitive; just my guess. And I assume Mike will leave the clip up and available while that debate continues; the Nov. 3 (with RT Hawk...) clip seems to have been taken down from consideration).

For a range of reasons far too many to delineate (and only some of which have anything to do with the latest Pearl episode), I'm rapidly moving to the view that there are NO Ivory-bills residing in the Pearl (possibly some in central La. or southwestern Mississippi that might occasionally stray through the Pearl, but none residing). The Pearl has been combed over extensively in the last decade by good birders, and I believe the conclusion of Cornell, Fish and Wildlife, and most competent, experienced Louisiana birders is that the species IS NOT there. As always, my mind is open to be changed with new evidence, but I find no evidence from the last 4 years even close to persuasive (and I won't take the time to summarize what has transpired in the last week of hyperbole and miscues).

Those who have only entered this story since Cornell's 2005 announcement, now should have a greater appreciation for why there are so many strongly-inclined skeptics. What we have witnessed in the last 4 years is so reminiscent of what occurred over and over for 50 years prior. Nothing new here, just the same story of claims made and claims unverified that repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats. Various individuals through the 50's, 60's, 70's really did painstaking followups to most of the better claims back then (as painstaking, as single individuals or small groups could do), and came up empty. They must be shaking their heads back and forth in a knowing fashion now, maybe chuckling under their breath (while also sad at these outcomes), and feeling deja vu, deja vu, deja vu. This story has never ended as wished in 60+ years. That's the bad news.

Having said all that, people need to realize that before 2004 there was not major interest in the Big Woods, the Choctawhatchee, or the Pearl as potential home for IBWO (a few individuals voiced interest in parts of the Big Woods, but basically none of these areas would've made any typical Top 10 list for IBWO potential, in say 2003). So even eliminating all these areas from interest now (if one chose to do so), still leaves historically-promising areas in contention: Apalachicola/Chipola, Atchafalaya, Pascagoula, Congaree, and several others. I'll await to see what the final official report has to say about such long-time locales of interest (and some newer locales as well). Can any (or all?) now be eliminated? Are certain ones especially deserving of additional special attention? Can they be rank-ordered in some meaningful way for future searchers, or will we, after four years, just be handed the same laundry-list of places that were already known, before $10 million was spent?
Mike is overreacting. So far all that has been expressed about his latest video is first impressions, initial opinions, subjective judgments of what it "looks like" and "might be." No one has even started on measurements, comparisons to videos of known species, etc. Remember that the Arkansas video was in the dark and being picked apart frame-by-frame for a year before its existence was even known of outside the tightly controlled inner circles. I don't know why anyone thinks this should be resolved or resolvable in a weekend!

Great big chill pills for everyone, please
Mike's update reflects a sensible view of the situation. Looks, face it, even if it were a high-def IMAX quality video, it would take months of scrutiny before it would be generally accepted!
Bill, can you answer the flap rate point please?

I thought IBWOs were supposed to have a flap Hz quite a bit higher than the bird in question.
Bill, I understand your point; I just believe the more opinions/insights/speculation/impressions voiced the better... the first 99 opinions could be worthless and then the 100th person notice something everyone else has missed.
My own view is only my own view (I think my readers expect me to be upfront when I can be), and based on more than the just the latest vids.
Again, with fresh evidence my view will change on a dime. Show me enough evidence that the IBWO is in Brooklyn and I'll believe that too.
I think in the past Mike himself has said that it is "experts" who got us into this whole mess; I'm not willing to just leave it to them.
Looks like cyberthrush was punk'd by Mike's rapidly changing entries. He's certainly being far more deferential than he was before, perhaps too much so now. A quick look at the November 5th video shows it's worth spending more time giving it a close look. There's no harm in seeing where that takes us.
I'm not gonna claim to "know" anything about Ivorybill flight beyond what is documented. Old descriptions are generally qualitative, have no numbers or measurements tied to them, and are impossible to compare with present-day stop-motion video. Just like with the Luneau video, one can examine whether the flight is or is not like known species, but no one can really say what Ivorybill flight would look like to a movie camera in the wide variety of circumstances under which it might be encountered.

And and said before I'm not going to proclaim any conclusions about this latest video until I've had a chance to go through it in depth and in detail.
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