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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

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


-- Anniversary --


In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the announcement that Ivorybills had been rediscovered, Arkansas Online ran a piece including updates with Gene Sparling and David Luneau:

(unfortunately, nothing new to report though)

On a sadder note, Mark Michaels relates the recent death of Edith Kuhn Whitehead, daughter of J.J. Kuhn, perhaps one of the most under-appreciated heroes and experts in the entire Ivory-bill saga:

Saturday, April 25, 2015


-- Fantasies ;-)) --


While awaiting any other news, perhaps just some entertainment today... 'tis the season of avian webcams. Bird nestcams are among the most wonderful, extraordinary uses of the internet. My favorite nestcams are of hummingbirds and Barn Owls (also enjoy European white storks on rooftops), but there are many other
fabulous ones including eagles, falcons, Ospreys, Barred and Great Horned Owls, penguins, and other species (including this year a popular Laysan Albatross nest). The best cams are live in real time, and often even include infrared photography for night viewing... a world that was largely hitherto unknown to scientists has been revealed by all this gadgetry.

The site below lists a GREAT MANY birdcams, though not sure how many of them are currently active:

Two of my own favorites are this Allen's Hummingbird in California:

and these Barn Owls in Texas:

The famous Decorah Bald Eagle nest in Iowa though has long been a crowd-pleaser as well:

(WARNING: these sites are addictive)

I mention all of this because of recently noting to an emailer my own personal fantasy for Ivory-bills from the last couple years... no reason not to share it, runs like this:

I wake up one morning and an email note, or science news headline, or an RSS feed, or instant message, or whatever, directs me to a new webpage... yeah, you guessed it, it's a live-stream website of a remote camera, deep in green-laden woods, on an Ivory-bill nest cavity. The parents fly in and out; two chicks occasionally pop their heads out the hole and look around... it's live, it's real, it's high-definition and it hardly even requires explanation.
There's no announcement from Wash. DC.; no friggin' article in a science journal; no press conference from the Cornell Lab; no ornithologists in research-disclosure mode; and definitely no description of where this location is; just the unmistakable visual evidence that nobody can discount and everyone can partake in 24/7 (...and a whole LOT of birders calling in to work sick for the following week)... ohh, and hey, maybe there's a banner above the page that reads: "Ivory-bills LIVE!!!" ;-)))

We can all fantasize.... (although as my emailer properly warns, marriages might be imperiled, if there ever actually was an IBWO nestcam!... be careful what you wish for ;-).

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


-- That Old Reward...? --


Many will remember the $50,000 reward offered in the course of the Arkansas Big Woods search for information that led wildlife officials to a living Ivory-billed Woodpecker. As far as I'm aware that reward STILL STANDS. If anyone knows otherwise please let me know (if it's changed or rescinded). Though the reward was initiated in Arkansas, I believe it applied to proof of the Ivory-bill's persistence ANYwhere (in the U.S.), and required one to lead officials to a living bird (simply providing photos/video or any other evidence, no matter how conclusive, was not enough, unless it led to a location of individual birds).
I also believe at least part of the reward was provided by a single private individual (who I assume, but am not certain, is still around).

Anyway, just want to nail that all down, since I consistently use the reward as an inducement to people who write me with claims of Ivory-bills, but don't realize the necessity of getting a photo/video (to get wildlife officials to pursue a report). Those claimants who write to me from Oregon, or Washington state, or Massachusetts, or Canada ;-) probably won't have much luck, but couple times a year someone writes from an area, and with enough detail, that I can't so easily discount, and a $$$ incentive may encourage them if they believe enough in their own claims.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


-- No, Nope, Nada --


Which is to say, thus far I've not found anything adding weight to a rumor previously referenced. Most folks writing me are speculating or making guesses about things I don't have answers for, since the rumor is so undetailed. All I'm really looking for is someone familiar enough with it to say it is bogus or already dispelled... OR, is still being actively followed-up on (will worry about additional details later). Anyway, will keep checking around a bit, but for the moment, not putting much weight on it.

Meanwhile, noticed that another site has re-posted an older podcast on cryptic/extinct animals which includes a segment with Cornell's John Fitzpatrick talking about the IBWO (that I've linked to previously). May be worth a re-listen. Fitzpatrick's segment begins at a little past the 26-minute point, and proceeds for about 11 minutes.
direct download here:  http://tinyurl.com/k7ae7um

or, it comes from this Webpage:

(I believe the recorded treetop call Fitz references from 2008-9, came from the Congaree in SC., though it sorta sounds from the interview context as if it was from the Big Woods, Arkansas, so am uncertain about that.) [...A respondent now writes me that the '08-9 audio was indeed from Ark. The somewhat similar incident I'm thinking of from the Congaree may have been 2010.  In checking my loose, disorganized notes looks like the Congaree case was spring of 2007.]

Monday, April 13, 2015


-- 10 Years and Counting --

"Every time my cell phone rang I expected it to be from someone in the bayou saying ‘We got it!'
The days were long but the excitement was in the air – it was just electric. It was thrilling to be with birders and impassioned conservationists all working together in the hunt to rediscover this bird that had been thought to be extinct." 
-- Cornell's Ron Rohrbaugh speaking about the original Big Woods search for the IBWO

We're approaching the 10-year anniversary of the USFWS/Cornell announcement that, for a short while back-in-the-day, set the birding world aglow. Meanwhile, not much good search-time remaining in the current search season.

I assume most readers continue to follow along Mark and Frank's searches in central La. Their last two search-entries here:


and an additional new post on bark scaling here:

As long as I'm citing Web material, should probably mention that Mike Collins continues to upload IBWO-related videos/mini-talks (on various aspects of the controversy) to his own YouTube channel:

Finally, I don't usually go public with such things, but have been trying without success (unlike in prior times) to nail down a loose, vague, non-public, slightly intriguing rumor that crossed my screen in March. If anyone knows something about it and can pass along any info (in confidence) to flesh it out a bit, would appreciate it: cyberthrush{AT}gmail{DOT}com  

Likely nothing to it, or it's already been dispelled, but would be nice to clear off my radar if that's the case... or, if still being pursued, to at least know that that is the case (...no need for guessing, and am unable to spell out any further details unfortunately, but if you've heard it, then you probably know the one I mean without any further details).  Vast majority of rumors I receive go nowhere, and this one is likely no different, but....

...On a complete sidenote, I was recently checking around for more recent pics/examples (since last time I checked) of leucistic Pileated Woodpeckers and lo-and-behold there's a doozy from just a month ago in Iowa:


(not a bird that could be mistaken for an IBWO, but just a gorgeous bird in its own right!)

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


-- Geoff Hill Returns to the Choc. --


By coincidence, while checking up on some current Ivory-bill doings, I just learned that Auburn's Geoff Hill started a new general ornithology blog last week, and it begins with his return to the Choctawhatchee last month after a multi-year absence. Nice pics, and good to hear from him, and his return to the swamp, if only sporadically!:



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