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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.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010


-- Dunne On Ivory-bill --


Pete Dunne's description of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker from his "Essential Field Guide Companion":


I find the promulgation of the notion that ivory-bills "closely resemble" pileateds to be all too pervasive, and is undoubtedly the result of the fact that most living birders have never seen an ivory-bill. Does a hooded warbler "closely resemble" a yellowthroat? Certainly, to a layperson. To a birder they are like night and day. Yet these two birds are arguably much more similar than the two woodpeckers. I don't mean to pick on Mr. Dunne, but the uncritical repetition of such phrases leads to widespread misconceptions amongst the general public.
I think you're misreading him slightly Fang... I believe Dunne is just acknowledging that the IBWO "most closely resembles" the PIWO of all N.Amer. birds that it could possibly be confused with. While a layman might conceivably mistake a teal, or anhinga, or RH Woodpecker, or leucistic crow! (as some have suggested) with an IBWO, it's almost unimaginable that an experienced birder getting a good look would.
Dunne was one of the few "name" birders who early-on publicly registered his belief in the original Cornell findings (when others were becoming skeptical or agnostic). I don't know precisely what his current view is.
You may be right, but it is easy to interpret the text as I have done, and the fact is, popular media are full of the notion that the pileated is an ivory-bill "lookalike." I think we should all be more careful about such comparisons. Mark Bonta for example, in the podcast cited below, refers the two species as "very similar." Hairy woodpeckers and downies are very similar. Even turkey vultures and black vultures could be said to be very similar. Ivory-bills and pileateds are not.
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