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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, June 10, 2011


-- For Your Weekend Viewing --


Scott Crocker's "Ghost Bird" is now up on the Web, in it's entirety (85 mins.), at this learning site:


(I'm assuming this is a legitimate showing... if it is pirated or otherwise unauthorized someone let me know that and I'll remove the link).
Its not bad as a comedy. But unfortunately it wasn't intended as one. Oliver Stone's distortions and deletions of facts has 35 year olds to this day believing in fables about Dallas--- now its Brinkley. Garrison, Crocker.........what a crock. To those who study the history and ecology of the IB this movie provides some good insight into the logical errors and leaps of the skeptics. They are more like deniers, grasping at straws and sayings, than true skeptics. Not one of them has ever produced any field evidence of any substance except JJ and his past findings supports IB existence.

Croker unwittingly infiltrated the banal world of the deniers. He knows not what he has done, so thanks are not in order, just amazement. Unfortunately this butchering of the story, perpetrated under the guise that this successful researcher or that one, wouldn't talk to him, influences layman and wise use types against IB conservation and all conservation.

Its very enlightening to see Sibley, Prum, Jackson, Nelson, et al. sharing their rationalizations and how they no doubt fed off each other into one of the biggest conservation and science blunders of all times. What did some famous skeptic call it .....group think? Isn't that easier to develop when you put together a set of people who all have idiosyncratic biases to create synchronized doubt. I mean come on....the stories on each of these skeptics is well known except evidently by Crocker. Sibley is the first major field guide author to leave the sp. out and call it extinct in the US (Mid-1950s). This lack of caution, is antithetical to what all extinction proclamations deserve from a scientific and moral perspective but still came after he had the benefit of the Cuba and Kulivan events. He then continues the mistake with the multiple errors in the Science Note, his failure to study wing beat Hz at all and then when he did he made rudimentary mistakes.

Top of Show acting award goes to Sibley performing amazing scientifically sound survey studies, from design to conclusion, in only eight days, beating God's creation endeavors by 2 days. God took Sunday off, evidently some have superior work ethics. He went to the White NWR for 8 days and walked in one direction for 1/2 the day and then turned around and came back later in the day in the opposite direction. During nights he read Tanner in his van and discovered that the dead Nuttall's Oaks he would see on his strolls should have IBWO work on them. He opines he didn't see any IB work so concluded hmm, ahhhh, maybe something's wrong with the whole rediscovery and especially the tape.

Now those data sheets I gotta see. On which night did he discover this methodology? Did he start his study after night 1, 2,...7? Making his ability to conclude that IBWOs seemed to be absent via complex corollary, even more fantastic in its efficient brevity and clairvoyance. Or is the word illogical, when one takes into account the thin, linear strip he examined. Was he looking for the bird or tree trunks? How many 2 year or less, post senescent, Nuttall's did he examine? Any pictures of these trees? When did he create the field guide key to even distinguishing IB tree sign from other Picidae when the amateurs are going in circles for 7 years on sign. (Although Auburn at least pretty successfully empiricalized the process).
Did he have a method to measure adherence? Any real data on all these unworked trees? I assume the other woodpeckers for some unexplained reason were also not doing what all Picidae do.......peck at rotting trees because they can't get at the decaying can this odd, science fiction film is in.

Amusing is Sibley's nice comments on Nelson. Let me get this right.....Nelson is a blessing to scientifically based conservation pursuits but hasn't been in the field and can't figure out the basic physical chemistry of CO2?

Prum is a classic--- damn what a habitual flip flopper. The proof is lacking-its great-not sure could be ducks--its bad. And with his scoffing about who would expect the bird in AR, him and Crocker knowingly ignore the FL, SC and LA claims and evidence. Jackson----- not a word from Crocker or him on the blatant double standard from Cuba. No evidence there other than field notes--but in the US the videos, much audio, more notes than the whole '86 expedition times 20, isn't up to their mutable standards. Sun can't reflect off dark wings of select Cuban birds in short views, fooling those with feet in Cuba we suppose.

Their alleged great understanding and concern for ES fundings in 2006 is only believable if and when we hear that any of them officially testified, published, strongly lobbied, or donated significant time or monies to increase ES funding prior to 2006. ( Jackson may have done something hopefully). The Ivory-billed is a keystone species that is certainly as worthy of funding as any other species. One can convincingly argue that the IB, an umbrella species, is more effective in conserving large, entire biodiverse communities than many other ESs.. The problem with funding is mainly its inadequate level. Letting decision makers off the hook to increase levels by blaming the IB is a tactical error in many ways. The deniers made a Faustian deal easily portrayed when we see the Nelson/Sibley hand holding.

If any of Crocker's excessive editing was in error or he took someone out of context, to weave his fable ...........its possible.

Crocker is a busy editor with some good scenes but this is the most ill-informed and most intellectually one-sided and sophomoric piece of pseudoStone-like cellulose we will hopefully see. All Crocs usury of Nancy Tanner and years of splicing out of context statements is debunked by several minutes of summated IB evidence. All validated by scores of field note events, 3 peer reviewed papers, the USFWS and the AR BRC. Unidirectional editing doesn't change facts.

Collectively these individuals damaged conservation.

good birdin'
I actually agree with much of the essence of what FAV says, except I don't put much of the blame on Crocker, who is simply a film-maker afterall (not a scientist or ornithologist). The blame goes with Cornell for failing to get their view out there (even if they were contracted to George Butler). They seemed to hold an attitude all-along that if they didn't publicly-engage the skepticism it would somehow fade away... a wrong-headed, naive approach that demonstrated a lack of understanding of the Internet's hive mind. But perhaps no agency has done itself proud on this matter!
For those who follow such things there have been several recent examples of science-presentation that got chewed up online long before the more traditional academic formats took their whacks at it. It's a new world of science-delivery out there...
Not sure Crocker and film makers in general are simply just that, as you say. From past infamous dictators to legitimate politicians----there is nothing trivial about the power of film.

On certain serious non-fiction subjects like history and extinction don’t they have an obligation to the truth or presenting both sides?

The many inaccurate or mis-leading cartoon-like, text boxes he inserts into the story are well beyond his abilities to make or are inaccurate or mis-leading. He interviews numerous people but they evidently didn’t say what he wanted so he creates this temporally odd silent film text trick to steer his audience towards his conclusions that Cornell has something to hide and the IBWO sighting are all a mistake.

How well researched can this be when he hasn’t heard about the Ivory-billeds prolific ability to conceal itself and the millions of SE US acres involved. Sibley vaguely calling some AR area well visited and not big when the Big Woods is 400-500 thousand acres, shows the non-existent stink meter that Crocker employed to produce his fable.

If he’s going to infer or conclude, as he did, no IBWOs were/are here he will have to ask multiple non-powderpuff questions in 85 minutes. He had none. Sibley might be able to survey 3 million acres in 8 days, less time than God.....but not Crocker.

As a viewer the messages are muddled: Extinction is forever, the species is valuable and globally significant, many good people have seen it,……………. but the scientists and sighters in the field are unreasonable, emotional, faith based, silent and wrong and the past IBWO reports are brief and certainly mistaken. He went for his own fiction…….and still couldn’t get a consistent plot line or message.

His ability to make a fairer film wasn’t negated by Cornell’s or Auburn’s minimal input that was for them, contractually proper and ethical. He purposely chose to erect fictitious barriers to a fair story because creating conspiracy or controversy was more important to him than the truth. He will go far in the pseudo-doc film industry that seems to grow with my cable bill.

I enjoyed Ghost Bird. Crocker had certain advantages as an "outsider." It's very easy to believe what we want to believe. As far as I know, he hadn't been hoping the bird still lived, and he didn't want to be proven right about it likely being extinct. He let major players from both sides say their piece, and he showed the best evidence to date, the video. Seems to me he accurately concluded that when the chaff of the evidence is blown away their isn't much left but hope.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Parts were enjoyable.

We seem to differ in a few areas,

You say: >He let major players from both sides say their piece, and he showed the best evidence to date, the video.<

You must have missed that he interviewed NONE of the 3 IB science papers lead authors and perhaps none of the co-authors all ~ 18 of them. He missed all or almost all ~ 21 authors. The few people with field knowledge (quite different than believers)he had were portrayed by bhis editing as emotional and spritual types who relied more on wishes than empirical ID skills. By your comments you were succesfully led that way and these eye witnesses are not like that.

As far as your assertion that the best evidence the, video, was effectively over turned........ several problems.

A single BRC submittal often includes all evidence from various data sets (audio, field notes, interviews, etc.). Videos or pictures are not always needed to get records accepted. So the AR BRC submittal was comprehensive in sets and in some respects the video is superfulous for submittals in general. Granted this species in '04 needed some hard evidence which included video and AUDIO. In some venues hard evidence also includes multiple eye witnesses "testifying" independantly to the same thing.

If the Science Note gang and the filmer wanted to parse out much evidence down to a video this is not a comprehensive method and is mis-leading.

They failed to address in their NOTe all the evidence and took to the net and interviews to spread various mis-information an innuendoes in regards to all the IB sightings being brief (not true), wing beat frequency is right for PIWO in video (its not) and the audio, hundreds of kents and double knocks is something else such as deer, new species to science, ducks, etc. (which range from untrue and ridiculous to weak).

They also hid/hide repeatedly behind what could be called the Deniers 5th Amendment, which is not found in science. They stayed silent on providing any real evidence, let alone proof of any of their odd assertions by hiding behind their unilateral hijacking of the null hypothesis of extinction.

The IBWO has repeatedly and erroneously been called extinct and was not classified as such in the US or the world in '04. For an author to ignore the '87 Cuba, '99
LA, 04 AR and 05 FL evidence deniers are ripe for scoffing as they cling to the Deniers 5th Amendment and some rock solid hold on the null, dogmatic hypothesis of extinction.

By the way where is all the great conservation and endangered species centric philosophy that the deniers claim to have yet they must be the first to tell us and the world the IBWO is by default extinct?

Sedentary, hypocritical and inconsistent doesn't cut it. The null in '04 was the species is possibly alive with a very low detection function and large range.

The existence of Ivory-bills was definitively proven countless times prior to the 1940's when the bird was nearing extinction. In the nearly 70 years since there have been innumerable misidentifications and numerous hoaxes without one piece of solid evidence produced on this continent. That, despite the Ivory-bill being the "Holy Grail" of birding, and the most extensive and expensive searches in birding history. That says more than all the many words to the contrary.
"Solid evidence" is a highly subjective term... if solid evidence means something like photographic evidence then the IBWO certainly was NOT "definitively proven countless times prior to the 1940s" -- from most states all we have are anecdotal reports, or a few museum carcasses who's point of origination is unprovable.
I'm with Cyberthrush but probably even more in the "optimist" camp these days. Buck is confusing "solid evidence" with proof. Shoot, I'm just a lay person a long ways from IBWO habitat, and some individual researchers here have graciously shared some good evidence with me. Conclusive? No, but people with obvious agendas have raised the bar so high that claims like the Kulivan sighting are treated on par with Bigfoot claims. I hardly think the causes of science or objectivity are served in such instances. I've pointed here before to the story of the black-footed ferret, and right now there's a bit of a political brouha because some good ol' boys up north refused to permit an experimental population to be introduced on some private lands with a suitable prairie dog population. And don't get me started on the Idaho hillbillies and the way they're terrorizing folks about mythical depredations committed by reintroduced gray wolves. These folks aren't going to let facts triumph over the horror stories their grandparents told them...
Harvard has many specimens, the American Museum of Natural History has several, as does the Chicago Field Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, the Charleston Museum, Cornell, the University of Nebraska, the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery, Anniston Museum of Natural History, Tulane, the Royal Ontario Museum; there are over 400 specimens worldwide. Along with the photos, feathers, known nesting cavities (undoubtedly with DNA to be found in them) and so on there is plenty of solid evidence, proof, call it what you will, definitely showing that Ivory-bills were once living here.

It seems logical to conclude that if Eckelberry could locate the last known living Ivory-bill by himself and unsupported, and follow it around for two weeks and show it to other people, the same could be done at least once in the subsequent 66+ years, if there were birds to be found.

The bark [from their workings] peels off and falls on the ground, and that's how you find where they are. You could hear them [calling] a mile away, it seemed. They were extremely loud. Very loud. The pounding was pretty darn loud, too. They are a very, very conspicuous bird. Nancy Tanner
I'm not going to address all the inaccuracies in Buck's post. I'll stick with his statements about Eckelberry. The first point, and this observation is not original with me, is that if you examine Eckelberry's 1944 sketch of this purported last Ivory-bill, a female, it sure looks like a male. While it's a black and white drawing, the crest is clearly not shaded like the rest of the bird. The image is ambiguous at best, and 21st-century skeptics would have a field day with that.

More important than this problem with the sketch is the fact that Tanner himself had reason to think a pair of birds persisted in the Singer Tract into 1948 and possibly 1949. Gus Willett, the game warden in the Tract reported this and that the birds were "moving over a much larger area than formerly," and it's in the Tanner papers. Of course, this detail never gets mentioned because the Eckelberry story is such a pretty one. I'll leave you all to reflect on the persistence of a pair in an area that had been cutover some five years earlier and what that may imply. . .

And FAV, I've got the feeding sign sussed out. . .
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