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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, September 30, 2010


-- Big Woods Happenings --


For awhile now, Jackson Roe, with his dad, has been independently searching a Big Woods area (Arkansas) known for previously-followed-up-on IBWO claims, and now reports on his blog (Thur., Sept. 30 post) what he believes was a sighting of 2 Ivorybills:


Jackson was kind enough to send along some additional details to me via email (since ironically I had recently written a post about "copious" details being needed for any claim), and of course I can only wish Jackson well in trying to further document the birds. The report is not unlike many previous reports of brief encounters, except for the claim that a pair of birds (male and female) were present... sightings involving pairs are fairly unusual.

...and the beat goes on.

[11/2/10 Addendum: sighting later retracted as being Red-headed Woodpeckers.]
I note that this person has also seen and photographed an Ivorybill before. The photo is on his blogpage and is best described as unidentifiable.

I assume that despite there being a pair that hung around to be observed for several minutes, these birds will not be properly photographed, documented or independently corroborated.
A two-bird sighting on a large area of public land is very encouraging!
someone requests to post the following comment anonymously:

"keep up the good work jackson! you are showing a lot of conservation dedication for a teenager! there was some timber harvesting across from Wattensaw's Buck's landing (east side of white river) several years ago, but i understand the property owner would not allow ibwo research access, but various woodpeckers may have a buffet there now!? good luck!"
And there goes splat again . . . A bit of jealousy?

I note that this person has also seen and photographed an Ivorybill before.

The relevancy of this observation escapes me...

And . . .

I assume that despite there being a pair that hung around to be observed for several minutes, these birds will not be properly photographed...

Since we've been "lectured" before on the appropriate scientific method, I'm curious how this fits in because science concerns itself with observed data and not snide hypothesizing...
Unfortunately, the only thing that will back up my comments is time. So let's wait and see, again.

The photograph of the 'ivorybill' is a nice bit of 'observed data', so have a look at it and keep me informed.

I didn't realise the observer was a young gentleman - I admire his enthusiasm and desire, I am sure he will have a rich and fulfilling birding life ahead of him.
I didn't realise the observer was a young gentleman

Ah well, just another careless error/oversight that could have been corrected by even a cursory reading of the blog post. Kinda like conflating Campephilus and Dryocopus I guess.
What about the photo Mark?

Why isn't anyone running down there to document this pair of birds?
Nice job Jackson. Please post your fathers and your field notes and sketches somewhere. Hope you are submitting to the AR BRC.

In the United Kingdom this week hundreds of birders recently seemed to mis-ID an Empid and try and peg it into the rarest of categories---- a first ever CONTINENTAL record. A perceived Yellow-bellied (link below). A YB would also be unlikely to stop in that type of microhabitat patch also (there are exceptions).

I've got to wonder what Spatty and his buddies were doing over there, ha. Although this genus can be troublesome many consider the Yellow-bellied Flycather the easiest to ID of the group and it only takes seconds for a US birder to realize this is not a YB.

Also the article captures a mate panting that the one mile hike to the bird (seems level, easy terrain, see the pix) was the hardest of his life!

Here of course we have spatty believing that you just walk up to a prior, fall IBWO sighting location and photo one of the most collected species of birds, in deep riparian forest, with an undefended home range of up to 20,000 acres.

We have never gotten an IBWO in less then 3 days and thats in areas that we had gen on, and ES permits to attract the bird. In one week hiking ~ 40 miles, sometimes with packs of 40 lbs you might get one encounter with the right methods. Getting a pix is orders of magnitude harder.

The morals of the story could be:

birders make mistakes especially when they are unfamiliar with the confusement species and habitat preferences and the bird is silent. US birders in general do not know jack about European ID problems/confusement species/habitat preferences and vice versa. Note that the IBWO/PIWO ID problem is not anywhere near as difficult for US birders as an Empie ID for Europenas oespecially when the US birds are calling/knocking.


Although the US is perceived as being highly developed there are multiple bottomland forest corridors that dwarf the largest similar wilderness areas of Europe. Relocating an indivdual pair of wary birds OF ANY SPECIES in habitat like this has defeated many a person and will take a week to months just to hear or glimpse the same bird previously reported.

"Hundreds of twitchers have been making the pilgrimage to Blakeney Point, after hearing that a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher had landed there - its first ever appearance in Europe."

Among the excited birdwatchers to have braved the hour-long walk was David Norgate(CORR), 44, from Dereham in Norfolk.
'It was one of the hardest walks I have ever done and I wondered if I would make it but the idea of seeing such an exceptionally rare bird kept me going.'

Spat was demanding an answer in the Swarts flip flop thread and a response was made.

Thanks FAV

the bird was found, observed for the rest of the day and identified down to Traill's quite quickly for a bird only seen once before on that continent and in truly awful conditions, often hiding in cover. Yellow-bellied was phoned into the bird news services by one birder and was never really a contender. Try the ID frontiers discussion site to hear a few true experts discussing the identification.

The first 'Traill's' Flycatcher for the Western Palearctic was identified quickly and correctly in the field too, (in Cornwall, UK) and multi-observed and incredibly well-documented.

try: http://i251.photobucket.com/albums/gg315/gomphus_photos/Field%20Sketches/fieldsketch005.jpg


I can't see too many similarities with any of your IBWO sightings, LOL!!!
Hmmm... Seems splat's missing the point there FAV. Those overseas fellers clearly can't differentiate between a leisurely one mile stroll to a "wood" to see a little chee-chee bird that's in no hurry to change locations and spending up to a week hiking around in a true wilderness - not seeing another human being - trying to document a species that was shot out to the very knife's edge of extinction. That is the reason that eventual photo documentation is so important - really the holy grail of North American Conservation - because the chance of getting another observer to see the same bird(s) nearby are slim to none. They vacate the immediate area when human type people show up... My experience with the 'lil chee-chees is that they tend to ignore us. Now I WONDER why splat misses the similarities between the two types of sightings. Personally, I think Stevie Wonder could see the difference.
Jackson Roe said on his blog: "I'm not going to write about some of the details of the sighting. I expect to catch a lot of skepticism from this report. But I don't care, I saw two Ivorybills!"

Young Sir,

The trick is to keep your enthusiasm alive and allow the skepticism to serve as your motivation--to prove the naysayers wrong! There are many who give lip service to the cause of conservation, yet so few who would dare traverse the swamp to lend power to their claim.

Some coots grow cynical with age and fail to recognize 1) that a glorious bridge has been established to shutter the gap of years existing between father and son, thereby creating a tract of common ground for the two men to meet upon; and 2) that the IBWO's plight has attracted both the attention and enthusiasm of a youth (the very hope of conservation's future) who may very well be "the one" to provide definitive proof of the bird's existence. You may be the one to finally break the curse of the Ivorybill.

No doubt you are a young man of intelligence (it's obvious to anyone who reads your blog) and it has not escaped you to be methodical in your scientific observations and notes; you have simply declined to release them to the general public. I applaud your courage, dedication, and willingness to do what so few would. I for one look forward to the day we are graced with that all illusive, definitive photo. Until then you lend faith to my hope, and excitement to my observations. You and your enthusiasm are contagious--I can honestly say: I believe!

P. M.
Imagine what a shame it would be if Jackson had instead taken the advice of spatuletail or Gary Graves.
Not a shame, a tragedy...

We should all strive to nurture the youth among us who will one day bear the torch.
Part of nuturing the youth is providing them with guidance and feedback that will help them learn and improve their knowledge, understanding, and skills. Telling them "Oh don't listen to all that silliness, you are great and everything you do is golden" is not how you grow a man out of a boy, or a woman out of a girl. It's how you make a perennial child with a lack of critical thinking skills and an inability to assimilate constructive feedback, a breed which is alas by no means endangered.

His blog makes three things very clear: he is young, he is enthusiastic, and he is still quite inexperienced as a birder. The sorts of confusions he struggles with on a daily basis (common Blue Jay and White-breasted Nuthatch calls versus Ivorybill "kents") are exactly the sorts of things he needs to learn not to confuse before his reports can really be taken as credible. In his August 14th entry he describes a bird as big, back-and-white, and "flying like and Ivorybill" (as if we really know what that is) and counts it as an Ivorybill sighting even though he flat-out states that he could not tell which parts of the bird were black and which were white. Again, this shows exactly the sort of lack of critical judgement that a young birder needs to be taught - trained - guided out of before his reports can be taken seriously -- reports of any unusual bird, not just Ivorybills.

I was a teenage birder, I know exactly what those years are like. And when I got a few more years under my belt, I went through my records and deleted whole lot of "sightings" that were likely the product of overeagerness and "undercriticalness." The experienced birders I went out with never hesitated to point out (quite firmly sometimes if I was unreasonably insistent) when I was wrong and why; this is how I learned to become a good birder myself.

I'd love to hear some of his recorded "kent" calls.
Well, Bill,

I didn't confuse Blue Jay kents for IBWO kents, I knew what they were when I recorded them.

I admitted that I didn't see where the white was with that one "sighting."

I wasn't the only birder there with this sighting. My 46 year old dad was there too. What we saw was not a Red-Hed or a Pileated.

I really enjoyed your blog...
Well said Johnson!

Since you are playing with the big boys you want to be able to hold your own. In the spirit of being proactive and helpful I’m recommending a couple of undergrad college level books you might want to consider reading to aid in your research and the sharing of the data you collect:

1) Critical Thinking by Brooke Noel Moore and Richard Parker (8th ed). 2007. You can get a used copy of this book for under $5 (there’s really no reason to buy the newest version). The url is as follows: http://www.amazon.com/Critical-Thinking-Brooke-Noel-Moore/dp/0072818816/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1286390709&sr=1-1

2) Research Methods for the Biosciences by Debbie Holmes, Peter Moody, and Diana Dine 2010. This book will be released in November at a cost of $45. The url is as follows:

I wish you well in your research and adventures!
My apologies to Jackson! I posted to Johnson inadvertently and without checking myself. Human error sucks.


If he'd taken my advice he'd have made field notes at the time detailing why this was an IBWO, called others immediately to help in verifying the sighting and then within hours sent the recordings of the IBWO kents to, lets say, Cornell.
I did take field notes. And I never recorded their kent calls during this sighting.

Just because you didn't see the notes does not mean I didn't write them.
Will you be submitting this:

big, back-and-white, and "flying like and Ivorybill" (as if we really know what that is) and counts it as an Ivorybill sighting even though he flat-out states that he could not tell which parts of the bird were black and which were white.

good luck.
Well, I guess it did fly like an Ivorybill. And it was large and black-and-white.

There was a white trailing edge in flight, and a white patch on the back when perched. One bird had a red crest, the other a black. Rapid wingbeats. You would've known all of this had you read my blog.

Why do you write comments? Do you have nothing else to do? You have no idea what you are commenting about, ever. You must have no life at all, go get one. Don't get rude with me.
so what's Bill on about:

"he flat-out states that he could not tell which parts of the bird were black and which were white."

but now you can tell where the black and white bits were.

Take Bill's advice. It's good advice.
That was a completely different "sighting." I always claimed I knew where the white was with this sighting. If you would read my or CT's blog post you would know that.

You copy and paste Bill's comments and then write 5 words for yourself, and you even have a clue what you're talking about. Stop commenting you complete moron.
Yes, I'm very sorry. I've read the description and accounts on your blog and it's now clear - er black and white actually - that you obviously saw a pair of Ivorybills and I have indeed been a moron to suggest that you
a)may have been mistaken,
b)posted a less than convincing description
c)didn't follow the sighting up in an appropriate manner

What was I thinking? You did see an IBWO. Surely it will be back soon... and photographed and multi-observed etc.
over the years there have been multiple credible ibwo observations in Wattensaw... Ross Everett(observed a pair), Allan Mueller, and other ibwo sightings there are mentioned in Cornell final season reports to USFW... there is a good field of view at Buck's landing on White River for observing the ibwo's which may be flying to/from the George tract/Dagmar areas... good luck Jackson!
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