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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, April 30, 2010


-- Calamity --


Much will no doubt be written/blogged about the massive oil spill now threatening so many fragile Gulf Coast areas; one of the worst ecological disasters in modern times. Chuck Hagner has a "Birder's World" post enumerating some of the key bird habitat areas potentially affected here:


and National Audubon is reporting on the tragedy here:


Of course a lot of creatures besides just birds will be affected by this barely-imaginable calamity. I won't dwell on the story here, but the magnitude of the catastrophe and mournful reports to come must be noted. [If you find a website or a post that covers the bird/nature/habitat consequences of this unfolding disaster in a particularly insightful way, feel free to post the URL in the comments.]

...Addendum: I said I wouldn't dwell on this... but... I will link to one more story, from the UK actually, focusing a bit on the first bird (a Northern Gannet) pulled from the slick:


(commenters below have justly noted that these wildlife-saving efforts are trifling relative to the overall devastation rendered, but still.....)
This is so horrible that it's hard to even think about. If anyone can provide a link for where to contribute directly to the wildlife protection/rescue effort, that would be great.
This comment has been removed by the author.
The International Bird Rescue Research Center is one non-profit that will be working on the problem. Their website is here:


and they run a blog here:


For anyone who can actually volunteer their time to help out on site, Audubon has a form to apply:

Thanks for the link. Per Frank Wiley, people can also volunteer in Baton Rouge:

While pictures of oiled birds make everyone upset please try to keep the impacts of this spill and oiled bird rehabilitation efforts in perspective. It has long been recognized that rehabilitation efforts have little effect on bird populations or even individual birds. The birds that are cleaned, housed and released have low levels of survival with the time and money spent on them well out of proportion to how much the effort benefits the population. And keep in mind that, unlike the cutting of the Singer tract, ecosystems can and do recover from oil spills.

If you have time or money to donate to wildlife resources they can be much better applied to strategies that really benefit the resource rather than mainly act to assuage upper-middle class liberal guilt.

Just as with the IBWO gold rush there are "conservation" groups, including Cornell, who ignore the real conservation issues and try to make a buck off spills and "rehabilitation" efforts. And if you really want to help the states being impacted by the spill find ways to donate to the agencies helping the almost 20 percent of the human population in Louisiana that lives below the poverty line.
And keep in mind that, unlike the cutting of the Singer tract, ecosystems can and do recover from oil spills.

Actually, bottomland hardwood ecosystems in many parts of the south have recovered, to some degree, since the logging of the Singer Tract, which, contrary to myth, was not "virgin" timber in Tanner's day.

Not suggesting that the logging was a good thing, just setting the record straight.

As to whether this particular ecosystem can recover, sad to say, it very well may not, for reasons that are explained here:


I have no illusions, and it's mighty presumptuous to ascribe my motives to liberal guilt. I take no pleasure in pointing out how bad this may be. Conversely, you're willing to use this catastrophe to whip Cornell. I think that's contemptible.
Conversely, you're willing to use this catastrophe to whip Cornell.

Most visitors to this site are well aware of how Cornell played fast and loose with the IBWO facts when there was a chance to cash in. As the Gulf spill plays out it is worth noting that Cornell and Audubon have approached oil spills the same way they handled the IBWO. When spills held the promise of a funding/donation stream, scientific rigor was ignored and they led the public to embrace their sketchy findings and conclusions.

I have no desire to "whip Cornell" and wish it would start acting in a way that would allow it to regain its previous status that CT references in a recent post.
The truth of the matter is that bird rescue efforts to cleanse and release oiled birds following oil-spill disasters have an abysmal success rate if you look at the benefit of those efforts to the bird populations affected. They make the people who contribute money to the effort or who actually pitch in and get their hands dirty feel good about themselves, but that's about it. The birds themselves have an extremely low rate of survival. It's all about PR.
Boy, 32.5, I was just kidding on that figure being your I.Q., but you really aren't much beyond the O'Reilly room temperature level with those Fox News talking points. For years, I've seen the "Wise Use" types brainwash the huntin'/fishin' crowd here--who do generally behave themselves on these issues as long as we make it a point to hang a poacher now and then--with similar tactics. There are always the claims conservationists and scientists are insincere, dishonest, and in it for the money (which the accusers often are), and frankly this lame Coultergese is nothing more than lousy perfomance art with no factual basis. Strictly adolescent stuff...

In truth, the Fox crowd isn't interested in factual reporting because sophisticated sorts (whether liberal or conservative, a moment of silence for Buckley, thank you) see right through them. So, in the manner of a stage musician, they employ dramatic smoke and mirrors as their primary m.o.'s.

You've projected your own guilt onto others, that's all. Of such stuff slander and libel are made. Those of us who've been involved at any level (even if, in my case, sometimes it's only 20 bucks to the Sierra Club when my kids need to eat) realize we don't have this mythical "liberal guilt" because we didn't create or participate in the problems, and being grown-ups, we're doing what we can not to enable the perpetrators.

Now how about you go join Hole-in-the-Truth over in the corner of my classroom, and I'll borrow another dunce cap from a colleague?

And please don't insult us with your disingenuous claim about having no desire to "whip Cornell." If you didn't have one, you wouldn't be doing it.
John, I appreciate the comment, have done some research and see that you're right. That's all that needed to be said.

As the worst case scenario keeps worsening, it seems that even if rescue efforts had a higher success rate, it would still be spitting into the wind.

I stand by my other remarks.
And if the birds and other fauna do indeed have a horrible rate of survival--and I have no reason to doubt that claim, and I echo Mark's thanks--isn't that all the more reason for outrage?

It won't do for that claim to be used as an excuse for inaction on the overall clean-up, or more importantly, for suitable prophylactic policies and oversight to be implemented to diminish the possibility of future catastrophes.
The coastal habitats that are in the path of the oil spill are some of the most vulnerable to long-term impacts of spills. This truly will be worse than Exxon-Valdez. All efforts should be made to protect them and their fauna - but putting birds into rehab centers wastes time and money and leaves the public thinking that rehab efforts are effective in mitigating a spill. Agencies and institutions who benefit from rehab funding would like the public to think the rehab efforts are worthwhile and are attempting to capitalize on a concerned but naive public. There was similar manipulation of the public in the IBWO saga.

And a note to CT - I know you do a minimum amount of screening of inappropriate posts but I find the ramblings of Concolor1 (referencing something about 32.5 being someone's IQ, associating people with Fox news, and talking about "dunce caps") to be beneath the level of discussion I believe this blog aspires to. My apologies if I am being presumptuous with that assumption.
just to give a little different twist...
it's true that as a practical matter saving some individual birds or wildlife is miniscule in terms of the total disaster faced here, but it is a compassionate endeavor to partake in.
We do it all the time at the human level: i.e. we spend more money on end-of-life care for humans to eke out 1 or 2 or 5 more yrs. of not very-high-quality-life, just because we have the technology to do so, even though the money might be better spent on children elsewhere needing food or clean water. From the cynical standpoint it's a ridiculous squandering of medical money, but if it's your parent or grandparent (or yourself) maybe not so much.
I understand the practical view expressed above, but don't want to be too belittling of any hands-on efforts people make, even if those efforts are dwarfed by the disaster-at-hand.

re: 32.5's final comment... yes, I'd prefer pejorative comments (even sarcastic or satirical ones) toward other specific commenters, be held to a minimum (if at all).
Okay all sarcasms aside, it's somehow okay for 32.5 to accuse a whole group of people of dishonest and extremely self-serving motives but if someone lands a solid punch or two . . .

Would you prefer, Three-two, that I put your narcissistic entitlement issues--which are engraved right on your forehead and some of us even realize you can't see them--in purely clinical terms, pointing out your namecalling is evidence your operating reality includes the belief the rules somehow don't apply to you and your bully pulpit?

I can do that, too . . .

A moment of silence for Bobbie Burns...

Wud the gift the Giver givest, to see ourselves as others see us...
I agree that compassion is what inspires people to give and volunteer. It also probably gives them a feeling of empowerment when dealing with something that's so far beyond their control that it borders on the unimaginable (as this situation certainly does.)

It may be something of a misallocation of resources, but I'm skeptical about whether it creates a false sense in the general public that oil spills aren't extremely serious and are addressed by animal rescue. Indeed, the opposite may be the case. I also doubt that the motives of the people involved in rehabilitating are as cynical as has been implied. Yes, not-for-profits live and die by fundraising, but that doesn't mean that fundraising efforts, even misguided ones, are a sign of bad faith.

What I find most discouraging is that there's still very little mainstream discourse about what really needs to be done. Just one example, nearly 40 years ago, as a junior high school student, I attended an Earth Day Teach-in (remember those.) One of the speakers, an early and influential environmental lawyer, said that if the US were to set up a program along the lines of NASA or the Manhattan Project, we could probably develop a clean, renewable energy source in a few years. I don't know whether he was right or not, but the idea was never even tried, and in this climate, it would be political suicide to propose it.

If there's any silver lining to this disaster, perhaps it will come in the form of a discourse about meaningful changes in the way we humans are occupying this planet, from population control (as someone's who's child free, I think this is a big and taboo subject,) to energy, to consumption of other limited resources and on and on. I'm not optimistic.
Oh, and if there's been any questionable behavior by not-for-profits, it pales in comparison to the petroleum industry's conduct, from funding climate change denial to green washing; BP ("Beyond Petroleum) has been one of the worst when it comes to that.
Mike Collin's has a heron in the air on 4/30 from top of one of the trees. He is calling it a Little Blue. The bill seems too long and slim for LB and seems like a possible Tri-colored to me. An LB would have a stout bill base with a relatively more dropping upper culmen line than shown.

A TC has a more parallel look to the bill edges over a relatively extended length of its longer bill.

Why does this matter for IBWO? Camera setting info. If its a Louisiana it shows that ventral white is not showing at all with Mike's camera, the settings and lighting conditions.

This is looking at only one frame which can be deceiving. In the next frame(s)the bird's bill could show it's a LB.

tks FV
FWIW, the American Birding Assoc. has released a statement of its intention to aid the Gulf recovery in whatever capacity it can here:

Keith Olbermann, host of MSNBC's Countdown, used a remark by conservative pundit George Will last night as grounds for awarding Will a satirical "Worst Person in the World" award, a regular feature on the cable news show.

The remark was made in reference to the Gulf oil spill horror, and there was additional illumination offered on a number of conservation/ecological issues. For those who missed it, here it is:


Keith alleges Will was guilty of hoping viewers (and doubtless Olbermann's fact checkers, possibly hired from Al Franken after the former SNL regular became a U.S. Senator) wouldn't refer back to Will's souces...

In defense of the conservative, I'll suggest perhaps he was guilty instead of passing on talking points he and his staff failed to review and fact check themselves. Olbermann may have done a public service with this one, and it could be a mistake that won't be repeated.

And in a related story, a news poll, also released this week, listed CNN and Fox News as "most trusted" with the broadcast networks lagging behind.

Curiously, though, selecting MSNBC was not offered as an option...


Well, given all those here possessing statistical sophistication, including the site's proprietor, perhaps we can get some illumination on the probabilities that different polls that offer substantially contrasting conclusions are likely "cooked" in some fashion or another...

They didn't offer stats in the English Department, but I did play enough bridge back when that the percentages in the "Monty Hall Problem" and the related one about the "sex of a second child when the other is known" didn't throw me.

Seems to me this conclusion can be understood similarly...
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