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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.

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"....The truth is out there."

-- Dr. Jerome Jackson, 2002 (... & Agent Fox Mulder)

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-- 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, April 20, 2014


-- Tidbits --


1) A Mississippi journalist voices support for Mike Collins here:


2) Occasionally, my Ivory-bill feeds bring in something I don't even know what to think of… the below page contains a couple of oddball quotes from a "Caleb Nelson" --  at first I assumed they were historical in nature, but turns out Caleb Nelson currently teaches at the UVA School of Law (perhaps the whole page is strictly intended as humor?); in any event, Virginia is beyond the historical range for the IBWO:


3) Someone emailed me recently asking how many searchers were employed in the official USFWS search throughout the Southeast, and I don't have any figure for that (there were also a lot of volunteers and independents who only worked short stints). I quickly scanned through the final FWS report and what seemed clear was that only Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina really had very many active searchers (and even then not enough to cover all the habitat of interest). Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and perhaps even Texas, had remarkably few searchers (although La. and Tx. have been covered a lot in the past). But if anyone wants to put more exact figures on it feel free to.

4) Finally, I've seen some pretty major tree work done by Pileateds in the past, but still found this recent addition to YouTube impressive:

This was almost surely not Cyberthrush's intention, but for the sake of clarity: the Pileated work, while impressive, is typical and is not what anyone should think is suggestive of IBWO.

There is a very narrow category of work that I believe to be diagnostic for IBWO. I've seen it in Louisiana and in some of the photographs from the Choctawhatchee. In seven years of looking closely at bark scaling, both in and out of suspected IBWO habitat, I have not seen it anywhere else.
Right Mark; I included the PIWO clip primarily for entertainment, but also because folks sometimes send me pics of foraged trees they find interesting, that most often appear to be typical PIWO work (similar to, just not as extensive as the above).
The clip also nicely shows the relatively small size of most PIWO chips which you've discussed before.
Thanks Cyberthrush, and just to be clear, my interest in chips is limited to scaled bark, not to excavation.

I've also been thinking about the number of searchers/thoroughness with which various places have been covered. Without getting into the nuances and possible criticisms of various search strategies, I'd say that only South Carolina and possibly Arkansas come close to having had truly extensive efforts; both are on the periphery of the historic range, and South Carolina's isolation from other areas means that it may be less significant from the perspective of long range survival.

Despite the Choctawhatchee search, much of northwest Florida has had at best cursory examination. The same goes for most of Louisiana, except for the Pearl. I don't think it's quite fair to say the state had a lot of attention in the past, particularly since it was the home of the last confirmed population, and there are numerous areas that have been ignored entirely or have only been looked at by independents with limited funds and significant time restrictions.

I can't really speak to the other states, but I believe that northwest Florida and quite a few places in Louisiana are the most promising places. I also suspect that finding a nest site will be the key to proving the species has persisted. The knowledge of how to do that died with J.J. Kuhn, not with James T. Tanner.
It's gone.

Work it out

There's some crazy stuff on this site
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