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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

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


-- Various Stuff --


Not for math-phobes... Problems with statistics in research here (lengthy):


Speaking of statistics, but on a slightly less-technical note, I've occasionally referenced the "Monty Hall" problem from mathematics here before. Jason Rosenhouse wrote an entire volume devoted to it last year, and it's worth a read for those titillated by math and paradoxes (moreover, I believe it too, like the above paper, relates to the entire Ivory-bill debate, but that's another story):

"The Monty Hall Problem" by Jason Rosenhouse

Barely a peep in either email or comments here about the new Louisiana claims, nor much mention on other bird blogs --- an indication of the damage done by the Sheridan/Rainsong past --- no one wants to touch such claims at this point without crystal-clear photos available, so jaded is the birding community now. I understand that, but still ashame, as it can be a discouragement to anyone wanting to come forth with information that might be helpful yet non-definitive. I don't find the physical evidence of the new claims (photo, sounds, signs) very strong at all, but would be interested to hear more details of the specific sightings, and hope better physical evidence may yet come along.

Finally, possibly rarer than an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, this wonderful find of a white Atlantic Puffin (beee-eautiful bird):


And speaking of beautiful birds, Molly-the-Barn-Owl (and internet sensation) should have her first hatchling (of possibly 5) live on video nestcam any time now, before a worldwide audience:


[Update 3/20: none of the eggs have yet hatched; could prove to be an infertile clutch or possibly hatching still to come]
[UPDATE 3/21: the first egg has hatched at approximately 2:45 pm EDT... to a cheering internet throng ]
[UPDATE: by end of 3/25, 2 more eggs have hatched with 2 remaining that may hatch over next 4 days; and today was declared "Molly & McGee Day" in San Carlos, Calif. where the nestbox with the two so-named birds reside -- probably be my last update here, but may be another 50+ days before owlets fledge from nest, so plenty more time to view]
I think the east-central Louisiana report isn't generating more posts because A) it's not weird and B) it's a work in progress. They haven't presented nearly the volume of evidence that Hill et al did for the Choctawhatchee, but it sounds like the latest location has real potential for nesting. I look forward to the analysis of the contents of the suspicious tree cavity.
I have searched in the past with most of these LA people; they are a tough bunch that do not revert back to motels after 12 hour field days. They stay in deep woods for weeks at a time if needed, carrying a decent amount of gear. They have literally seen and heard thousands of woodpeckers in the SE along with examining many cavities and sign.

Observations have always led to intense discussions; putative evidence that wasn't unaminous was discarded. For them to even announce these findings signifies a high confidence, (actually knowledge) that Ivory-bills are in the area. Based on recent conversations and knowing the nuances of Ivory-billed field sign they are almost certainly right.

The mulitiple data sets, accumulated in a short time, indicates they have found an area frequented for years and/or being used as a corridor, at least seasonally. The one clip, of two birds, dueting is biological evidence that normal phenology is in place. The one or more sightings of 3 birds indicates a viable pair or population.

In asking preliminary questions about behavior, habitat characteristics,etc., everything fits what other researchers have found. On the important question----population size and trends in the immediate area and much larger areas----, the data is not in, but opinions are optimistic.

The species has a low detection function (observant/wary/no territorial calling), large range, and is rare. This along with barriers to entering private property and the habit of IBWOs to seek secluded, microhabitats can lead to an underestimate of birds. Regardless the bird is very rare.

Thanks to those in LA.

Fred Virrazzi
The bird is extinct. There is no evidence to the contrary. None.

Optimistic opinions and hearsay are worthless.

Data sets?? That's a fancy term for hot air.
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