"....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.”
"All truth passes through 3 stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer
Monday, September 27, 2010
-- ...more difficult than ever --
Somewhat oddly I've had about the same number of stray Ivory-bill sighting claims arrive in my email box this summer as in the past; none very detailed or persuasive, yet they come. It's a bit frustrating that after all this time a lot of people still don't understand that you can't just say you've seen an Ivory-bill, and you looked in a book so you know that's what it was, and be taken very seriously.
It has sometimes been hypothesized that a lot more birders think they have seen an Ivory-billed Woodpecker than have ever reported it, because BIRDERS do understand how difficult it is to be taken seriously; how grinding the questioning will be; and even the stigma attached to such a report. But for those who still don't 'get it,' if you're going to send in a claim that you've seen Ivory-bills you need to, at a minimum, fill in these details:
1. Where, when (approximate dates/time-of-day) did you see the bird(s)? and how far was it from you?
2. Describe what the bird was doing (perched, flying, on ground, pecking, etc.etc.), and how long did you see it for?
3. What makes you believe the bird seen was an Ivory-bill and not a Pileated Woodpecker?
4. Very roughly, how many Pileated Woodpeckers would you say you've seen over the years?
5. Did anyone else see the bird with you, or do you know of anyone else who has ever seen the bird in the same area?
6. Did it make any sounds?
7. Describe what you can of the woods or general habitat of the area it was seen in.
8. Are you a birder and if so for how many years? how would you describe your level of birding experience?
9. And exactly where do you purchase your moonshine?... NO, NO just kidding!!
These are the prelims... depending on answers to these basic questions I (or anyone you contact) may have another whole series of questions to follow up with. (...Understand that your report has been preceded by a couple thousand similar ones that haven't panned out.)
And I'm a patsy (who still believes the species is not dead, but just pining* ;-))... many others by now will barely even consider a lone verbal report, especially from a non-birder, that isn't accompanied by photographic or other evidence (...and I've had 'kent' sounds sent to me as well, but never one that sounded IBWO-like to my ear).
In short, though I'd like to encourage everyone who honestly thinks they've seen this bird to report it, they need to do so with the understanding that a 2 or 3 or 4 sentence report isn't even in the ballpark of adequacy... so if you can't stand the heat, you may as well stay out of the Ivory-bill kitchen; reporting you were abducted by a UFO will be as plausible to many folks.
One might've hoped that 5+ years after this whole venture began it would've become easier to credibly report encountering an Ivory-billed Woodpecker... in fact of course just the opposite has transpired, and it is now more difficult than ever. A report unaccompanied by a clear photo or video needs copious, copious details... lacking such it barely constitutes being a report at all.
* apologies to John Cleese