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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, March 18, 2012


-- Of Soras, Kitchens, and Paradoxes --


Probably ought do a new entry since some readers only read the posts here and miss the comments section… so for any who don't know already, the prevailing opinion to the latest taped sounds from Louisiana is that they are likely Sora rails (I'm not 100% convinced of this myself, but its a moot point since I am convinced they are not IBWO sounds). You can read the comments to the prior post to fill in some of the details, if you haven't already...

One other thing I'll touch on from the comments (and I thank people for not letting them slip toooooooooooo far into 'snarkland' before making your points):

For obvious reasons many (most?) birders no longer wish to involve themselves in the Ivory-bill debate (no doubt wishing it would just go entirely away!). It was suggested in prior comments that the 'mystery' sounds should've been put on listserv groups (including "Frontiers of Identification") for access to a quick, broad range of opinion. I don't believe the "Frontiers of ID" listserv is an appropriate site for most questions that come up here, nor do I think they would even take it seriously (they may even have an unspoken ban on this sort of IBWO material), and I don't fault them for that.

I myself had mentioned a desire to see the question put on the Louisiana birding listserv, though I'm not sure even they would have seriously reviewed it (and I wouldn't recommend it for any other state birding listserv -- by the way, you can't just willy-nilly post things on these listserv groups, but must be a registered member, and that involves a process as well). I do wish that more individuals from the Louisiana Ornithological Society had heard and responded to the sounds, and would still be interested to hear from certain of them.

But the point is, soliciting a wide selection of experienced birder viewpoints is not all that easy anymore when it comes to potential IBWO "evidence." When I occasionally seek opinions on certain questions through backchannels, the response I often get (if any) is along the lines of, "here's what I think, but please don't put it on the blog" or "here's my opinion, but don't attach my name to it." I always respect people's desire for confidentiality, but it does mean that more people weigh in on certain matters than can always be told (though still not as many as I'd like!); at this point 'Ivory-bills' is simply a 'taboo' subject for many who don't want to dabble with it.

I've said before here, if you can't take the heat stay out of the IBWO kitchen… (as David Kulivan, Mike Collins, Geoff Hill, and a li'l outfit called the Cornell Lab of Ornithology etc. can all attest to!); the Project Coyote group seems capable of defending themselves, as they should expect to have to do; other searchers prefer not to even have an internet presence and thus not deal directly with skeptics and criticisms. Part of me wishes that ALL evidence could be immediately laid out on an open table and summarily dealt with by the 'collaborative' Web. But I also completely agree with a colleague who notes that the more 'suggestive' evidence that comes forth without something conclusive following it, the more the IBWO case gets weaker, not stronger. That is the 'paradox' of the IBWO case… the more "evidence" that is produced the WEAKER the argument becomes to the general birding community, UNLESS clearcut photographic or video evidence follows close behind….

(image of Sora via Wikipedia)
Can someone advise this lost soul that we can't possibly learn anything from him on the presence or alleged extinction of the IB. He is useless to either side.

It's obvious he has no knowledge of the ESA or field experience in the SE US, never seen a Pileated, never heard a Swainson's Warbler let alone an actual Singer-like kent or strong DK in NA.

To address his poor comprehension of what was said: I related that a pix had relatively less conservation value and that a bird in the hand is orders of magnitude better for the species. Radioing a population rather than a picture of a lone, single bird triggers important provisions of the Magna Carta of the Environment, the ESA.

Without certain ESA mandated actions its more difficult to conserve the IB. A picture of a single bird does not cut it, nor a series of pictures spaced over years or decades.

A large segment of the searchers and believers are concentrating on the picture chase which is about what this fool, pseudoskeptics and some skeptics wanted. The few dedicated to getting out there have unwittingly and happily left the authors of the recovery plan off the hook.

The plan should have included actively attempting to net birds. They fly everyday but they very, very rarely pose.

Endangered birds of various sizes presenting unique logistical difficulties, such as the California Condor, Kirtland's Warbler, Whooping Crane, Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, etc. are routinely netted in the wild even amid past controversy and constant risks.

Certainly netting is a difficult task but so is the picture chase; the difference is the reward to risk----the data from a bird in the hand dwarfs the info and protection implications of a picture. A picture every 5 years will only be captioned the "last bird" by the pseudoskeptics.

We must wonder what we are doing when an ill-informed troll, who unknowingly represents all supporters of poor strategies/methods/plans, wants us to continue on a path that leads us in a never ending circle.


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