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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

Sunday, January 08, 2012


-- Back to the Big Thicket --

With no other pressing news on horizon may as well post this Texas Parks and Wildlife stab at hope from the Big Thicket:

Bad news good news.

It would be reassuring if one can say that this formal TX search wasn't done the way its shown in this video.

Yellow kayak

Prominent orange hunter attire

data recording that may include
all types of non-core tasks

comment on filmed scaling being possible IBWO when scaling is at best undeterminable

comment on holes being possible IBWO when at best its a woodpecker

Broadcasting of kents with a speaker that can't reach further than the flush distance of IBWOs (meaning there is NEVER an IBWO that will hear it)


Also, but thankfully rarely, we have been introduced to various field assistants with a resume such as >>>did this formal IBWO search and that one<<<<.

Then you find the assistant shelling and eating, crunchy peanuts right after the critical broadcast when a response is most likely. Then there is the missing of Pileateds that fly right through our field of vision. Other "funny" stories too.

Perhaps as high as 95% of the formal data gathered by past search terms is not designed or performed correctly. Most areas declared "IBWO free" have not been surveyed effectively.

And biology types, who should know better, think they can declare large contiguous blocks of habitat free of breeders after depending on the above data.

The methods of informal searchers is perhaps even less effective, and that includes postive or negative reports.

There is someone right now on "researchers forum" that has been documenting bark scaling for months or years, had attributed it to possible IBWOs, yet now saw the light as a squirrel is knocking it off in large slabs.

The good news is that multiple, experienced searchers have had 3 distinct and segregated encounters of IBWOs in the last 4 weeks.

What an interesting video...Thanks
Just to be clear, this video was made in 2007, and does not represent a current search effort.
Not sure if RR is inferring that there are better methods being employed post '07 and/or that there were organized searches after '07 in TX.

Regardless after '87 or '99 we knew, or should have known that you have a species that was heavily persecuted via direct take resulting in a timid quarry, throughout its range.

Heavy predation pressure can rapidly change behavior in a species. Here we had decades of persecution. The fact of wariness has been ridiculed by many as they invoked the Singer birds.

The truth, as others have said, is that JJ Kuhn could only approach a very few birds closely; the John's Bayou birds were visited for several years, if not decades, by Kuhn who likely acclimated these very few birds in a gradual fashion over hundreds of visits.

It's believed that Spencer shot the ~'24 bird in an area that Kuhn had brought him to prior. Spencer and Kuhn then had a severe falling out.

The great majority of those who ticked off IBWOs in Singer saw one of the same few birds; they were Kuhn's birds.

In addition I believe the Singer birds had not suffered the hunting pressure that other pops had; the area still had an intact fauna that kept hunters occupied with more desirable targets.

Subsequent pan-mixing has homogenized the overall wariness of the remaining IBWO's. This includes the reduction of ostentatious bouts of kents and DKs especially around nests.

Researchers must be careful on many levels to hear IBWOs.

Portions of prior serious field work that concluded areas had no breeders or IBs, should have their conclusions reexamined or tempered if the methods were lacking. Using poorly or quickly trained volunteers to just walk through a good area may be inadequate.

On the presence-confirmed side, things must be examined also. IBWOs DO RESPOND to correct and effective methods.

The excuse that it was a large area and we can't hope to cover it is invalid. With the right methods a team of two people can and have acoustically covered 4 square miles in a day which is up to 17,500 acres in a week.

IBWO's are responding and are cooncidentally rarely showing a density of greater than one bird per 10 sq miles. Some results indicate no IBWO's in a particular large area.

If a group surveys an area after multiple reports of presence and has no contacts, the methods should be heavily critiqued before announcing NO IBWOs or breeding.

I implied nothing. My post was not a response to yours. Visitors to this blog could easily think the video was about a current search. It is not. That's all I was trying to clarify.

But I do find your comments interesting. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.
Well Fav, perhaps we can hope that Texas hunters use the same tactics and thus spare any remaining IBWO's by giving them plenty of notice of their presence.

Reading the description of their flight and how "duck like" it is is a bit dismaying; one wonders if any were shot and trashed by folks not wanting to confess to their poor eyesight.

On a brighter note, I liked this article. As everyone knows, I'm a sucker for predators...


A pox on the d-bag federal officials in Hawaii who shot the one that strayed there, however...
This FAV character is a congenital liar and bullshitter.
When "our" loose group of recent searchers compare notes we find that relative seclusion from human visitation seems to be a highly weighed habitat characteristic that influences occupancy.

The seclusion can be the result of insulation from visitation by anthropogenic barriers (surrounded by or on private property)or natural barriers such as sq miles of flooded swamp or braided (anastomosing) creek/slough/river bottoms.

If you hear of an area with IBWOs and subsequently visit it, its uncanny how you will encounter them in the area that is pragmatically the hardest to hike into.

Since the population of IBs is so low most decent core sections and even entire hypothetical ranges are unoccupied. The remaining birds have a plethora of decent ranges to choose from and may within the pairs range choose core areas that are visited in a repeating, circannular pattern.

This sequence could be influenced by hunters/gun shot frequency/visitation pressure.

This may mean that they are avoiding areas where hunters are as best they can. If hatchlings are involved adults may have to come out of this core area to gather food and that is when an encounter with a careless or purposeful hunter is most possible.

I am not sure of all game seasons that overlap IBWO breeding phenology but at least spring turkey season comes to mind. Coincidentally that’s when Kulivan had his pair.

Skeeters/trools---sometimes in the field the insects can be bad, but rarely due creatures with minute minds bother me.

One thing though---how does it manage to be redundant in such a short sentence (liar and bullshitter)?.

You are clearly claiming to be finding/seeing IBWOs. You are lying and bullshitting (there's a subtle difference) and it's disgusting. I'm astounded that you appear to be getting away with it, although it is of course difficult to gauge what people think as you seem to be largely ignored - which may tell its own story in any case?
"The good news is that multiple, experienced searchers have had 3 distinct and segregated encounters of IBWOs in the last 4 weeks."

Right Fav, I'll bite!
Can you elaborate on those distinct encounters?
"If you hear of an area with IBWOs and subsequently visit it, its uncanny how you will encounter them in the area that is pragmatically the hardest to hike into."

He sees them everywhere! Wake up.
Salar, three different ~ 1 week searches went to 10 to 12 distinct, average to optimal areas in two states.

There were two people in each group. Methods were specific and different than most search efforts but have been refined from many past efforts. The searchers each have several years of IB field experience.

There were sightings at one location and kents and/or DKs at all three. Some kents and DKs were recorded. One pair was possibly involved.

Some recent searches have added an important component to the customized, point count methods. The high encounter rate confirms the logical conclusion that methods are critical to correctly declaring presence or absence.

Feel free to ask detailed questions privately although general questions might be answerable in this forum...despite the trool evidently injured when falling off the turnip truck.

This podcast pertaining to the psychology of cryptozoology makes numerous pertinent points. Please listen to it before passing judgment.
Conservation Biology Vol 26 (1) 180-180

"The extinction of a species can be inferred from a record of its sightings. Existing methods for doing so assume that all sightings in the record are valid. Often, however, there are sightings of uncertain validity. To date, uncertain sightings have been treated in an ad hoc way, either excluding them from the record or including them as if they were certain. We developed a Bayesian method that formally accounts for such uncertain sightings. The method assumes that valid and invalid sightings follow independent Poisson processes and use noninformative prior distributions for the rate of valid sightings and for a measure of the quality of uncertain sightings. We applied the method to a recently published record of sightings of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis). This record covers the period 1897–2010 and contains 39 sightings classified as certain and 29 classified as uncertain. The Bayes factor in favor of extinction was 4.03, which constitutes substantial support for extinction. The posterior distribution of the time of extinction has 3 main modes in 1944, 1952, and 1988. The method can be applied to sighting records of other purportedly extinct species."

When can the conservation science community see the recent evidence FAV? I guarantee it will be never.
(Buck said...This podcast pertaining to the psychology of cryptozoology makes numerous pertinent points. Please listen to it before passing judgment.)

Okay, I've listened to it. I didn't hear much that is pertinent. In fact, Prothero defines cryptid as "...something known by folklore before its found by scientists.” That rules out Ivorybills. So, its not surprising that although Prothero mentions many folklore species, he doesn't bring up Ivorybills. There are hundreds of IBWO in museums and other collections. Last I checked, there's not one Big Foot, Chupacabra, or alien spaceship in any museum.


How does "substantial support" = "guarantee"?
River Rat, yes, IBWOs don't fit HIS literal definition as stated. They certainly fit this one: Any creature that may or may not exist. And this one Animals presumed extinct or hypothetical species of animals known from anecdotal evidence and/or other evidence insufficient to prove their existence with certainty.

Prothero only mentions a handful of cryptids, no surprise he didn't mention Ivory-bills.

Beyond the definitions, there are numerous significant parallels between the search for other cryptids and IBWOs, including anger at people not accepting unsubstantiated eyewitness reports or fuzzy photos of unidentifiable objects, a lack of verifiable physical evidence, the excuses of extreme wariness, the apparent ability of certain people to see what cameras cannot capture: the list goes on and on.
Yeah, yeah, I've heard all that. On the other side there are people who "guarantee" there will never be any proof of IBWO, get angry that some people believe there are living IBWO, refuse to believe sightings by well qualified and experienced birders, and make libelous statements about them on the internet. I don't know whether Ivorybills persist or not, who's wrong and who's right, but I can say that from what I see on the internet, one side of the debate seems to have a lot more jerks and assholes than the other.
Well River Rat, you clearly don't have long to wait now that Fred has seen a few recently. I ought to caution you though that he has made these claims before. And who would make such claims if they weren't true? Surely only a jerk or an asshole? And I do guarantee that FAV will not produce any proof. It will just go by the wayside as before.
Come to Louisiana and spend a week with me Steve... Scared? Or just unwilling to have an open mind?
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