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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, January 07, 2010


-- The Floor Is Open --


From a recent online interview with David Sibley:

"Question: Speaking of which, a big controversy in the birding world was that reported sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker, long thought extinct, in an Arkansas swamp. Does it really exist?

Answer: When it was first reported I went there immediately and spent 10 days. And the river was full of fishermen with binoculars. Everyone was keyed to spot it. It was not a wilderness. And I thought then, “If it’s here, someone will see it in the next four weeks.’’ That was five years ago. . . . I wrote a rebuttal for Science magazine."

... and not really a whole lot has changed since :-(

Don't know that I'll have much more to say prior to some summary reports being released (and even then may only end up repeating things I've written before), so for the sake of variety I'll again toss open the possibility of "guest posts" if anyone has some thoughtful commentary they care to pass along --- same basic guidelines as given in the original "contest" post, just no longer a contest (maybe folks were inhibited by the idea of competition???).
Send your thoughts/takes/analysis/conclusions (or Ivory-bill rock operas) along to me at: cyberthrush@gmail.com

He is asked

>>Does it really exist?<<<


>>That was five years ago.<<<

Seems he forgot or purposely skipped over the score of sightings in the Choctawhatchee AFTER the AR paper was out. Very convenient for a skeptic to do that. Doesn't mention the videos from Choctawhatchee that show a large, substantially white woodpecker, identified in the field as an IBWO. The 2008 LA video is also best, completely ignored by those claiming to be open minded towards science, conservation issues and extinction.

Skip over the Auburn paper, with its acoustical data sets (kents, DKs) field notes and compilation of thousands of hours of field work and mention your own work, which consisted of returning to a Brinkley hotel room several nights after searching a saturated area where a male had moved from while taking a crash course in video artifact analysis or perhaps no course.

Seems he also forgot to mention his co-authors on "his" paper. If he wants to be egotistic and take claim to that work himself, let him.

He has talked in volumes about the human psychology of mistakes and expectations of observers yet he never mentions that it applies to himself and IBWO skeptics also. An interesting chapter left out in his amateur dabblings into the mind, is the psychology of writers/artists that have a highly acclaimed book series with the glaring error of leaving out the Ivory-billed, a breeder, as at least a possibility. This is no casual error since the species is not officially declared extinct in the US by any substantial entity.

His field guide may be the first major work to leave out an IBWO depiction. The 3 guides I used from 70 to 99 including the Geo have a color depiction. Sibley had not one word on the IBWO, let alone a drawing. He acted as a one man IUCN, USFWS and endangered species clairvoyant.

I'm surprised some of the bean counting skeptics aren't enlisting him to save money; he could sit in various hotels around the world adjacent to the last reported riparian corridor of the Pink-headed Duck or perhaps a Moroccan wetland for the Slender-billed Curlew. He would jump on the chance to survey this species; he could multi-task and work on a field guide to sand grains.

After all his book came out after the Kulivan sighting and included in his first edition are extremely rare and restricted range shorebird accidentals with a standard that the sb species covered had to be recorded at least 5 times outside of western Alaska. Seems he didn't apply the same standard to Picidae since the IBWO was certainly recorded many times in SE USA.

It was a blunder to keep the IBWO out of his first edition in some open-minded and acceptable fashion. Pranty accepted the bird was seen in Florida in '67 to '69 (actually seen until '71). The Vireo pixs, Dennis' assertions, Hodge/Jackson hearing the bird, the species being found in Cuba in a relatively small patch, the Kulivan sighting accepted as probably true by Remsen et al.

Nothing seems to have given Sibley any caution even when the correct, conservation centric thing to do was mention the species.

Its clear he was firmly in the extinction camp even post Kulivan and post Cuba. Evidently he considers these two "events" mistakes; if he didn't its intellectually inconsistent for him to not mention the IBWO in his guide.

It would be great to have several written chapters on the psychology of mistakes prepared by someone other than the afflicted.
Subjects could revolve around entrenchment, carelessness, open-mindedness, believing in ones clairvoyance, perfection syndrome, ego, belief that one is any good at video artifact analysis, belief that tempospatially correlated data sets of kents, DKs and sighting are meaningless, confusing the scientific process with the bird record committee process, etc.


does this mean you shan't be buying his tree guide? ;-)
In the absence of anything remotely like an IBWO being documented over the last few years, and seeing as all those who've arrogantly claimed to have seen them (nine pairs?!) have shown themselves to be amateurs at best, I think Mr Sibley is sleeping well tonight.
Damn good post, FV NJ.
A very entertaining rant. And superbly written!

Thank you so much for your post. I haven't laughed so hard in ages. Do you think that coward Sibley will ever have the courage to respond?

Keep up the good work!
Vizzini is right--Sibley, Jackson, Collinson, all the skeptics--morons. What do they know about North American birds?

Hey, Roger Tory Peterson was a moron, too--he left the IBWO out of the color plates in his Eastern guide until the fourth edition 1980 (He had even seen the Singer Tract birds himself. FYI I have a 3rd and a 4th edition.) What did he know about North American birds? Nada, zip, nill!

And remember, never get involved in a land war in Asia, and never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!
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