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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

Friday, February 28, 2014


-- 10 Years and Counting --


8+ minute clip from George Butler's 2007 documentary film "The Lord God Bird" here:


h/t to Tim Gallagher for pointing to this (in a tweet) -- Tim also nostalgically recalled the same 10-year anniversary moments on his blog recently: 



Wednesday, February 19, 2014


-- Persistence, Paradigm Shifts??? and whatever... --


This month represents the 10th anniversary of the original IBWO sightings in Arkansas. Hard to believe! (…that it's been 10 years, not the sightings ;-) Nonetheless, for a lot of different reasons, a few of us persist in hope for the Ivory-bill. 

Mike Collins not only has broadcast his views on YouTube, but returned to the Pearl In February for some searching, and says he'll be back (from Virginia where he now lives/works) in March or April for another spell. Thanks also to the few independent folks who continue to send me occasional updates on the searching they find time for in various areas, even if nothing terribly promising has resulted therefrom. And over at the Ivory-bill Researchers Forum, posters keep the faith as well…:

The general paradigm for Ivory-bill searches in the past has been to go to an area where IBWO sightings are reported, especially where interesting sounds, foraging-sign and/or cavities are found, and have human observers search the area, as well as possibly installing remote automatic cameras… i.e. go where the birds might be and have a look/see. Seems logical… but it has failed pretty dismally (at least to obtain the level of documentation now required)… so some folks over at Ivory-bill Researchers Forum are proposing a different, more proactive approach: attract the species to where you want it to be... For anyone who hasn't followed the discussion there, the basic premise is that Ivory-bills may rely on olfaction for finding the beetles and other food sources they prefer, and if one could duplicate those creature-scents artificially and apply it to an area (obviously within suitable IBWO habitat) perhaps IBWOs would appear. A university professor from Caifornia who is expert in avian olfaction is intrigued enough by the proposal to think it worth pursuing. Fleshing out all the necessary details could take awhile… but interesting that after all this time possibly new approaches are yet being formulated (at least I don't recall such an approach being seriously broached before).

Also worth noting, that through the Freedom of Information Act, "Houston" over at IBWO Forum obtained the summary report of helicopter searches over parts of Louisiana (Atchafalaya and Pearl) back in 2008-9. Nothing much of note in it, but why this (and other summaries) have not been released long before now is beyond me… perhaps they're holding back such material for inclusion in a final summary report to be issued around 2081... when all the principals involved are deceased and don't have to defend it. 8-\

Anyway, the Ivory-bill saga is nothing if not bizarre, so I'll close out with yet another of those bizarre elements, for your entertainment -- a recent letter-to-the-editor of an Indiana newspaper (yes, Brazil, Indiana) from someone who appears to be sincere, but is almost certainly hopelessly mistaken… or, just a teller-of-tall-tales:



Sunday, February 09, 2014


-- Ivory-bill Materials For Sale --


Several of you may be familiar with birder Jim Williams, long-time bird/nature writer/columnist in Minnesota, with long-held interest in the Ivory-bill. He contacted me wishing to get the word out that he is selling much of his personal collection of Ivory-bill-related materials: books, articles, letters, private communications etc.; and he'd like to sell it all as a "package" (price not mentioned). Here is his email for contact:  woodduck38@gmail.com

Below, I'm posting the list of materials he has sent along, many of which will be quite familiar to Ivory-bill enthusiasts, and others may be more one-of-a-kind items. Please contact Jim via email if you have questions/interest:


The Grail Bird, Tim Gallagher, Houghton Mifflin, 2005, 1st edition

The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, Phillip Hoose, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004, 1st edition, mint condition.

Ivory-bill Hunters, Geoffery E. Hill, Oxford University Press, 2007, 1st edition, mint condition.

In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Jerome A. Jackson, Smithsonian Books, 2004, 1st edition, mint condition.

Stalking the Ghost Bird, Michael K. Steinberg, Louisiana State University Press, 2008, 1st edition, mint condition.

Research, diaries, letters, articles, etc.:

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Research Report No. 1 of the National Audubon Society, James T. Tanner, published by the National Audubon Society, October 1942. First edition, 107 pages, 8x10.5 inches, soft cover, fine condition

Personal letter from Willie Aschenbrenner, Rosholt, Wisconsin, 2008, regarding map

Nature Conservancy magazine, Fall 2002, Vol. 52, No. 3, article “Swan Song of the Ivory-bill” by William Stolzenberg, illustrations by David Sibley, photos by Macduff Everton

The New Yorker, May 14, 2001, 2 copies of article by Jonathan Rosen on hunt for Ivory-billed Woodpecker, historic and personal.

The Clarion Ledger newspaper, June 30, 2000, copy of article by Bruce Reed

Field observation notes by Whitney Eastman (marked “not for publication: For confidential  use by naturalists and ornithologists”): Discovery of Two Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in the Apalachicola River Swamp, Florida, March 3, 1950

Journal article (copy), Whitney Eastman author, for Atlantic Naturalist, Vol. 123, No. 4, Oct-Decc.1958, “Ten Year Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker”

Personal letter (copy) from Herbert Stoddard Sr. to John Baker, president, National Audubon Society, April 28, 1951. A report on survey of “the sanctuary” in Scott’s Ferry, Florida, 1951.

Project Proposal (2 copies) for 1993 Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Martjan Lammertink

Dutch Birding, article October 1992, (copy), “Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Cuba,” Martjan Lammertink

Personal letter, To the Editor, American Birding Association magazine, (copy), from Suzanne Grill, Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania, regarding 1992 sighting of Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Florida

Bird checklist, Felicianas area of Louisiana, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Office of State Parks, Louisiana, undated, no Ivory-bill on the list.

Map (copy) Pearl River Wildlife Management Area, Louisiana, circa 1990

Map, West Feliciana, Louisiana

Map, Lafourche Parish, Louisiana

Names and contact information, possible information sources, October 2000

Manuscript (copy), 114-page typescript account by H. Norton Agey and George M. Heinzmann of their searches 1965-1970 for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. Searches conducted in several states. Includes names of other people who have looked for the bird, plus summary of known sightings.

Manuscript (printed), article written by James J. Williams “Ivory-billed Dreams; Ivory-billed Realty” for American Birding Association magazine article late 1990s.

Article, magazine published by Minnesota Ornithologists’ Society, Minnesota Birding, March-April 2002, “Minnesota’s Ivory-billed Connection: The Whitney Eastman Story,” author Jim Williams. Magazine is intact and in fine condition.

Journal article (copy) Delaware Valley Ornithological Club, circa 1940, regarding 1939 visit to Singer Tract and observation of Ivory-billed Woodpecker as found by James Tanner.

Personal letter, Alan Brady, Feb. 2002, explaining above journal article.

Birding Magazine, American Birding Association, March-April 2007. Much of the magazine is devoted to several articles discussing various history of searches for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Very good condition.

Manuscript (copy) Historical Distribution and Habitat in Florida (of Ivory-billed Woodpecker) by Dr. Karl Miller, Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, Conversation Commission, Gainesville, Florida. Date and intended publication source unknown. Basically, this is a long list of “possible encounters with Ivory-billed Woodpeckers from 1859 to 1995,” with extensive citations.

Manuscript (copy) of journal article by Jan M. Swart, Nov. 2, 2006, publication unknown.

New York Times Magazine, May 7, 2006, “13 Ways of Looking for an Ivory-billed Woodpecker” by Jack Hitt. Good condition.

Two copies of US Fish and Wildlife brochure describing the bird and the searches. This was issued after the Arkansas sightings.

Also included, a small printed handout from Mexico illustrating and asking people to be on the watch for “el carintero real” (Imperial Woodpecker). The bird is shown in color. Very cool. Mint.

(...Someone please buy this stuff, because I've already forewarned Jim that most assuredly if he disposes of his collection, the species will no doubt be found and documented a month later and he'll be left punching himself silly! ;-)

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