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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

Saturday, June 15, 2013


-- Follow-up --


Read the prior two posts, if you haven't already, to be up-to-date for this post….

I was disappointed that no one has sent along any personal knowledge, or research, of the prior Goodwin/McClellan exchange that would clarify matters. It makes no sense to me that such a claim as voiced by Mr. McClellan wouldn't have been swiftly pursued by USFWS at the time, and there be some record of it. I assume in some form it was investigated, and nothing came of it.

This weekend I found an hour of time for my own quickie Web search... The closest possible 'smoking gun' reference I can find to the whole matter comes in this 1980 USFWS IBWO report which at the bottom of page 9 briefly makes note of a December 1967 message from Mr. Goodwin to a Roland Clement, which I suspect (but don't know with certainty) is referencing the same matter as originally uncovered by "Houston":
"In 1967. the U.S. Corps of Engineers halted the timber management plan at Dam B Reservoir on Neches River, Texas, in deference to ivory-bills. Federal and state wardens in area were alerted and public appeal received positive and gratifying response (Harry Goodwin in lit. to Roland Clement 16 December 1967)."
The timing is so close to the September 1967 note from McClellan to Goodwin it's hard not to conclude that they refer to the same situation… and possibly McClellan (in his note) was trying to have the foresters/timber industry take credit for actions the US Corps of Engineers had already put in place (just guessin'). At any rate, the several well-known claims for Ivory-bills at that time in the Neches (Texas) area, by John Dennis and others, were tantalizing, but of course never confirmed upon major followup efforts; indeed Tanner and others, upon studying the region, believed all such claims to be mistaken (still hotly debated to this day).

One could further research what major timber/logging companies were operating in the Neches area in 1967, but I'm guessing whoever was there 1) did not have any Ivory-bills under protection (even if they sincerely thought they did) and 2) may have been acting, not so much out of any real conservation concerns, but simply under the constraints of the Corps of Engineers (although I could have the actions in reverse, and perhaps the Corps only moved in AFTER true concerns expressed by the timber company?)

In short, I'm satisfied for now, that the fascinating story uncovered by "Houston," likely gets us nowhere... But if anyone finds evidence that the IBWO population referred to by Mr. McClellan in fact resided somewhere other than the East Texas Neches region, let us know… or again, maybe further pertinent documents will fall into the hands of Houston at some point.

(BTW, the whole 10-page USFWS report is worth a read, although it's mostly a re-hash of info available elsewhere. The report's author, J. W. Aldrich, concludes at the end that, "From the evidence presented, I believe that a few ivory-bills still exist in the United States [1980], but they are so nomadic that it will continue to be difficult to verify the occasional sighting."):



Sunday, June 02, 2013


-- Speculatin' --


In follow-up to the prior post on a most peculiar 1967 memo sent from the offices of a Forest Products Industries group to an official with USFWS, let me sketch out what seem like the only major possible scenarios that could account for the note (read the prior post if you haven't already) -- and I don't mean to be casting aspersions here, but simply stating the possibilities:

1) Mr. McClellan is simply lying to Mr. Goodwin in his statement about living Ivory-bills in order to advance the notion that the forest products industry is a good steward. [In relation to bald eagles he at least happily mentions both Weyerhaeuser and Georgia-Pacific, but in regards to the IBWO claims he conveniently offers no details at all.]

2) Mr. McClellan is writing in sincere, good faith, BUT has been lied to by another individual down-the-line, again in an effort to put the best face forward for the industry.

3) All parties involved are sincere and honest, but simply mistaken… they genuinely believed they were protecting a group of Ivory-bills, but in fact, had only Pileated Woodpeckers on site. [Perhaps wildlife officials at the time figured this out, and that is why the story never reached the public sphere; or, another alternative, perhaps the birds being protected were actually Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, another endangered species, but somewhere along the line, the names got confused during communications.]

4) All parties are honest AND CORRECT, and a small group of IBWOs (possibly a lone pair) were in existence, as stated, in 1967, on private company land. Perhaps the birds disappeared shortly after the memo was communicated... or, not. [Of course, in any event, those birds would be long gone by now, but it would open the door to speculation on how many of the species existed across the South at that time; AND it would be highly important as demonstrating once-and-for-all that the species survived LONG past the early 1940's when cynics have routinely chosen to write them off.]

There can be other nuances, but I don't see a lot of wiggle room outside of these 4 basic scenarios (but open to suggestions if you have some).
Personally, I'd bet on some form of #3, but would sure be nice if we could put this baby to rest one way or the other....

....In other matters, a new article from South Carolina on biologist John Cely's searches for IBWOs (he'll be giving a university talk upcoming on June 6 about those searches):


The S.C. searches produced a number of tantalizing claims, but, as usual, none ever confirmed.

And here's a short YouTube clip of Cely describing the Congaree habitat (in S.C.):



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