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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, July 28, 2011


-- Here and There --


Passed around lately, a 6-minute comedy routine surprisingly centered around the Ivory-billed Woodpecker here:


(caution: funny stuff, but some rough language for those with sensibilities to such)

As many know, there have also been some stills and video of purported/possible IBWOs floating around in the last month. A couple of instances pretty clearly show identifiable Pileateds, and I don't know that birds in the third instance are identifiable, but I see no strong case for signifying them Ivory-bills (there's a lot of information I don't have about the particular piece of film... but that only makes me even more suspicious of it). Again, at this point, we're in need of video that requires no analysis, but that shows what any birder can recognize as an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in 10 seconds of viewing... and then the provider of any such video must be prepared for intense and lengthy interrogation!

Finally, an interesting followup to the supposed travels of a mountain lion that ended up as roadkill in Connecticut back in early June:


And to end, must note that today is the 15th anniversary of Roger Tory Peterson's death. By his own admission, his greatest birding adventure of all time was searching for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker at the Singer Tract in May, 1942 -- his party, led by J.J. Kuhn, saw 2 females, and he joined that elite group of 1940's birders who's Ivory-bill encounters are unchallenged. He seemed to never completely give up hope for the species; I wish he'd been around for David Kulivan's claims just a few years following his death.

In memory, I've always loved the sign-off of Pete Dunne's wonderful eulogy to Roger:

"Roger was fond of saying that God, in all his wisdom, had crafted but two creatures with feathers: birds and angels. God, in his wisdom, gave us Roger Tory Peterson to interpret and instruct us. And although I do not wish to presume, and I cannot possibly be certain, I have a hunch that by the time I reach the hereafter, there will be a Field Guide to the Angels waiting for me. With luck, it might even be in its second or third edition." :-)
It appears the Connecticut cat was just doing what cats do naturally, which is making fools of we humans whom they connive into thinking we're their masters. In March, 2011, the USFW declared the Eastern Panther "extinct," and then this story occurred. I expect some will insist it was probably a conspiracy by idealistic Endangered Species Act disciples who captured this one in the Black Hills and brought it east. One has to be wary of those sorts; gray wolves reintroduced into the Rockies are routinely identified as "Canadian wolves" (immigrants?), and the Governor of Idaho has declared their presence has created a state of emergency.


A note from another IBWO searcher sent me a Googling; he'd seen a report from New Brunswick, and I happened onto his one from Indiana in 2012 (cool photo!)


Anyway, the taxonomy is being revised as I understand it (and I'm one who barely knows what a "clade" is or the criteria for what constitutes a subspecies), and it may be that all North American pumas are the same subspecies. Today's NY Times also has an article about them, and the author makes an astute observation:

Some will find this a frightening prospect [western populations migrating eastward]. Others will celebrate it. Eastern forests are overrun with deer, so the presence of cougars — which eat deer — could improve ecosystems. It could also, paradoxically, make people safer, since deer kill far more humans than cougars do, if you consider the sizable death toll caused by automobile-deer collisions.

Count me among the celebrants, and then there is this one which I think merits a grand scale festival.


Removing Barriers to Salmon Migration

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK, Wash. — Beginning late this summer, one of the most promising and pure acts of environmental restoration the region and the nation have ever seen will get under way here, experts say, in the form of the largest dam removal project in American history.

I have watched the American Cougar issue with great interest for years. It would certainly be thrilling to see breeding populations naturally re-established in the suitable wilderness areas of the American Midwest and Northeast. However there is a major barrier to this occuring.

The problem is that female cougars do not migrate restlessly like young males do. I am unaware of any documented wandering of wild western female cougars into the Midwest or Eastern USA.

If there were suitable habitat for breeding contiguously all the way east one would expect eventual re-population toward the eastern USA. But there is a huge gap in the presence of suitable breeding habitat between, say, western South Dakota and the wilderness of the upper Great Lakes or the Ozark Mountain area. While male cougars have wandered east at this point by the hundreds, the females are just not behaving in the same way. So one wonders how a breeding population could ever be established in these areas without intentional re-introduction of young female cougars.

I have no idea whether such an intentional re-introduction has been contemplated by any state or federal agency. But I could imagine that it would be politically rocky to say the least.
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