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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, November 03, 2013


-- Mike Collins Summarizes His Work --


Mike Collins has produced a set of YouTube videos recapitulating his case for Ivory-bills in the Pearl River (LA.) region, based on his work there over ~8 years. There are a total of 10 videos, generally 10-15 mins. each, beginning with this one (the other clips accessible by clicking on the "14 videos" link beside Mike's name):



Hey Cyberthrush - This may be a redundant question but what is your opinion of Collins' evidence?

I bet a lot of people initially saw the quality of the footage and immediately wrote it off. But after his walk-though it begins to appear more compelling. I would be interested in hearing reactions to his findings but it seems like many sadly consider his work unworthy of response?

I may say more later if I can ever find the time, but the short answer is that, even though I've always found certain elements of Collins' evidence intriguing, overall I don't find it very convincing (and less so than Cornell's evidence, which of course in many circles, is now regarded with little credibility).
I think many ornithologists have seriously looked at Mike's evidence (they didn't just 'write it off') and have interpretive issues with it.

Everyone, I think, can admire Mike's techniques and perseverance. And I'm glad he has finally put together a clear, organized, streamlined, comprehensible case that people can study now or in the future (his website had become a jumbled, difficult-to-navigate affair). Moreover, I believe that IBWOs could be present in the Pearl, or alternatively use it as a flyway or dispersal route… and even believe Mike may have encountered them or even filmed them… BBBUT, given the very high bar ('extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence') that has now been set for IBWO claims, I also believe he largely overstates his case and its certainty (and has characteristically done so as far back as his days at BirdForum) in far more ways than can be enumerated here. But... if he is right, then one suspects that somewhere in southeast LA. IBWOs are cavorting and breeding (and dispersing)... and despite evading humans, will, within some span of time be documented.

For me, the most compelling data from Collins is the 2008 "fly under" video shown in Part 8 of the series. The wings folding under on the upstroke suggests woodpecker, and the speed of flight, wingshape and wingbeat frequency rule out pileated. The bird in the video is a strong, fast, distance flyer, and shows a lot of white on very long and thin wings. Is there another candidate bird fitting all that information? If so, what is it?
Correction - part 5 of the series.
Analysts can't even agree on how much real white (not artifact), nor even what part of the bird the white is on, in the Luneau video -- the disputes seem unresolvable. It naturally becomes yet harder to reach unanimity in the interpretation of a much farther-away bird in a grainier film from Mike (and depending on interpretation of what is being seen, and how to make precise measurements, there are other candidate species). Even with modern techniques of analysis experts still can't agree on what to make of the Fielding Lewis photos where an IBWO is clearly involved. Human vision when it comes to film, or really any 2-dimensional representation of 3-dimensional objects can involve a minefield of variables.
I'm reminded a bit of this optical illusion (although there are MANY other examples -- just as a way of saying how LITTLE human eyes are to be trusted in many instances): http://tinyurl.com/nuj9lnr
Ok, I'll ask. What are the other candidate species?
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