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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

Monday, December 26, 2011


-- Closing Out the Year --


Another appearance by Tim Gallagher on NPR last week re-telling his quest for the Imperial Woodpecker in Mexico:


As most active birders out there have by now heard, some weeks ago a Hooded Crane (Asian species) was discovered co-mingling with Sandhill Cranes in Tennessee:



Obviously one wonders how an exotic large bird ended up plopped down in the corner of Tennessee having not been spotted anywhere along the way of whatever route it took to get there? Given that on any given day (or week, or month) very very very very very very very very very little of this country actually gets birded to any significant extant it's not entirely unexpected. At any given point in time there are probably 100's of rarities scattered across the country going unreported (granted, not all as rare as a species potentially from halfway around the globe).
Many presume this apparently non-banded, non-pinioned Tennessee bird is nonetheless an escapee from a holding facility (a few escaped in Idaho back in 2006), but even if that is the case the question remains how such a large distinguishable bird has managed to evade detection so much of its time (there being just two other sightings of Hooded Crane in US since those escapes)? But then maybe spotting a single Hooded Crane in a forest of Sandhills ain't so easy (or probabilistic), especially in out-of-the-way places.

Finally, a reader sends me a positive note about Daniel Kahneman's new book "Thinking, Fast and Slow," and what it may have to say about the Ivory-billed debate. This long-awaited volume has received outstanding reviews (including making it onto every 'Top 10 non-fiction booklist of 2011' I've seen), and Kahneman is regarded by many as one of the most important research psychologists of modern times (interestingly, he won his Nobel Prize in economics). I suspect his views can actually be used to cut both ways in the Ivory-bill dispute, but I haven't read the book yet (hopefully sometime in 2012):

In the 1980s I was in Baja, Mexico where I met a graduate student in zoology from a Mexican university. I asked her about the Imperial Woodpecker and she told me a biology class had sighted it on a field trip to a somewhat remote area and I seem to recall that the leader of this class had some training in ornithology.
I'll just say this, the area was a LONG way from where Gallagher et al were searching.
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