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Evidence for the Survival of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker (1 Viewer)

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buck3m

Well-known member
I'm starting this new thread for debating the case for the survival of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.

Let's try to keep it friendly, shall we? : )
 

buck3m

Well-known member
On Hoaxes

I don't think anyone's suggesting the Cornell team is guilty of fraud. I think they’re good, honest, intelligent, and human. It doesn't take a conspiracy theory buff to realize that fraud has, many times in the past, encouraged people to believe in amazing, but false, claims. There's no doubt that people have manufactured evidence that has fooled many. These hoaxes include:

“Piltdown Man” (which fooled anthropologists for 40 years.)
Viking “relics” manufactured and planted in the Midwest. Genuine Viking relics planted in the Midwest.
People posing as the undiscovered Tasaday tribe, (fooling scholarly organizations such as National Geographic and reported the world over as “fact.”) [as a side note, I didn’t learn the facts until the internet came along. I was wondering what had become of that amazing discovery, did a web search, and was stunned to learn the truth!]

And the list goes on and on. In many cases, expert, honest researchers have drawn invalid conclusions based on hoaxes perpetrated by others.

In some of these cases, the basic theory proved correct: Vikings HAD been in the New World, (but apparently not the Midwest) for example. In many other cases, once the hoax was proven, the theories were blown out of the water.

There has been more than one proven ivory-bill hoax already. In the case of the audio, I think it would be ridiculously easy for a prankster to play a recording and fool people into hearing what they're searching to hear. Some people confused gunshots for ivory-bill knocks, for heaven's sake. How many people could you fool if you played a GENUINE recording of IB knocks and calls? If you have no proper controls in your experiment, it erodes the dependability of the results down to nearly nothing, doesn’t it?

The reincarnation of the ivory-bill is a miracle, but there’s nothing miraculous or even particularly unusual about honest mistakes or hoaxes.

To paraphrase Occam's Razor: "The simplest explanation is the best."

I believe the ivory-bill MAY live, but the evidence is weak (and blurry), and the announcement is premature, at best.
 

buck3m

Well-known member
Curtis Croulet said:
Some anthropologists. But I've had my say about this topic.

Virtually all scientists who accepted evolution accepted Piltdown man until it was debunked.


curunir said:
So what is the simplest answer?

I believe it is fair to say that the two sides of the issue are:

1. The IBW has been proven to be with us all along.
2. The IBW may still be here, but should be presumed extinct until better evidence is offered.

To believe the former you would have to accept the following:

*Generations of IBWs have come and gone without any good photographs being taken or other solid evidence produced.
*Generations have come and gone without any dead specimens being found.
*Out of the numerous confirmed sightings, the only identifying characteristic marking noted was the white trailing wing edges. No one saw the "ivory bill" of these Ivory-Bills, nor the prominent white shoulder stripes, but they were there. (Note: if it were me, I'd have a mental list of each major identifying characteristic, knowing that I would be asked about it later.)
*The "spotters" never noticed or reported the noisy wings of the IBWs they saw.
*IBWs have gone from being relatively easy to find, observe and photograph, to being extremely elusive.
*They were lucky enough to avoid the remote cameras.
*Knocks heard can positively be identified as Ivory-bill knocks, not gunshots, axes, etc.
*Real kents can differentiated from recorded kents, blue jays etc, without seeing a living bird to match them to.
*For 60 years, populations were high enough to prevent extinction but low enough to prevent confirmed sightings.

To believe the latter you need to believe:

Ivory bills were not seen by the team at all, but they were fooled by fleeting glimpses of a pileated woodpecker or similar bird, as has happened hundreds of times in the past.


The audio is simply a combination of one or more: jays, guns, etc.

That explains:
Why they didn't HEAR the wings.,
Why they didn't SEE most of the main identifiers,
Why no verifiable ivory-bill photos have been taken in 60 years,
Why there were no GOOD CLOSE observations of the bird. Good views weren't confused with IBWs
Why there's only poor, FUZZY photographic evidence. Good photos and video would not reveal an IBW.
Why no IBWs appear on remote camera,
Why easily found and spotted birds have become so elusive,
Why no dead specimens have been found.
 

humminbird

Well-known member
Reading second hand records of the efforts to find Ivory-billed as provided in some of Gallaghers account, I do not find the "easy to find" contention supported by what these early century observers recall.

Mark
Bastrop, TX
 

affe22

Well-known member
buck3m said:
The audio is simply a combination of one or more: jays, guns, etc.

That explains:
Why they didn't HEAR the wings.,
Why they didn't SEE most of the main identifiers,
Why no verifiable ivory-bill photos have been taken in 60 years,
Why there were no GOOD CLOSE observations of the bird. Good views weren't confused with IBWs
Why there's only poor, FUZZY photographic evidence. Good photos and video would not reveal an IBW.
Why no IBWs appear on remote camera,
Why easily found and spotted birds have become so elusive,
Why no dead specimens have been found.

Do we know they didn't hear the wings or see the identifiers? I'm really tired of people putting words into the researchers' mouths and stating things that they neither said for or against. As for dead specimens, stuff doesn't last long in the woods, let alone a swamp. I've hunted and hiked woods that I know deer live in, but I think I've found one or two naturally dead carcasses. I have never found a full dead bird in the woods. It just doesn't happen that often. The jay theory is as ridiculous to me as the IBWP sounds are to skeptics. If jays in NJ made sounds like the IBWP it doesn't mean they make that sounds anywhere else. Here's an interesting fact, Blue Jays have very regional calls which are extremely variable from one place to another. The Blue Jays in St. Louis don't have all the same vocalizations as the ones in Kirksville, MO which is only 200 miles away. Has everyone forgot that the Cornell team stated that they were pretty confident they were at the edge of this bird's range? Maybe that explains the behavior. Maybe it doesn't. Either way, why not keep an actual open mind and wait to hear all the evidence (i.e. the audio clips) and maybe even see what the next search turns up.

As for people playing original recordings of IBWPs to fool Cornell, as far as I know there is only one recording that people know about and wasn't the search kept extremely quiet? Why would someone be out there with IBWP sounds when hardly anyone knew what the small group was looking for? Don't you think they could establish that someone was playing an old recording? Who would transport the audio equipment required to fake the sound loud enough and well enough by canoe into a swamp with no power? Don't you think people learned the lesson about gunshots and double-knocks which sound nothing alike?

As for sightings, haven't there been many, many sightings that were just blown off since they came from "amateur" birders? Maybe some of these sightings were valid but no one ever bothered to look into it because it was someone that wasn't anyone in Ornithology.

I'd say everyone should take the position of the IBWP MAY exist, but some people on the forum who claim this opinion seem to have the opinion of the IBWP does not exist and there is no evidence for it what-so-ever.
 

affe22

Well-known member
buck3m said:
(Note: if it were me, I'd have a mental list of each major identifying characteristic, knowing that I would be asked about it later.)

Sorry I missed this. If I were someone watching a species that was supposed to be extinct fly past me, I think I wouldn't be paying extremely careful attention to every field mark I should. As buck has stated, people do make mistakes. I think I would be so excited that the adrenaline rush would overcome the "I need to pay close attention" and I have a hard time believing anyone would stay very calm at that moment. It's kind of silly to sit on the computer and say that we would do otherwise in that situation because none of us has ever been even close to that situation and I'm sure we'd all lose careful focus.
 

Curtis Croulet

Well-known member
affe22 said:
It's kind of silly to sit on the computer and say that we would do otherwise in that situation because none of us has ever been even close to that situation and I'm sure we'd all lose careful focus.

Yes, there's a lot of the "if I ran the zoo" type of argument in the Nelson Brothers' posts, i.e., "I would have done it differently!". "If I'd been there, I would have noticed character X!" Maybe, maybe not.
 

timeshadowed

Time is a Shadow
Thank you for starting this thread and leaving the 'Updates' for the purpose it was started and made a 'sticky'.

I would like it better if a moderator were to move all the posts dealing with this discussion here removing them from the updates file.

I would also like HGR to give the same consideration to the 'other side of the coin'. That being that the IBWO should NEVER have even been considerated 'extinct' in the first place!

He should be asking questions like:
1. How extensive have the searches been throughout the years since 1944?

2. How much of the deep deep swamplands have undergone extensive searches for the IBWO since 1944?

If the answer is not very much, then why not???

Can HGR PROVE that the IBWO is indeed extinct??
What proof can he produce? Does HE have any? IF not, then WHY is he so determined to debunk the 2004-2005 information on the IBWO??


It sounds to me like HGR has some 'axe to grind'! I would like to know just what that AXE is!

Now regarding the lack of reported 'field marks'on the IBWO:

I do quite a bit of observation of the Bald Eagle and I can tell you that sometimes it is very difficult to "see clearly" the white head and/or tail of the eagle. The sun is sometimes the reason that these appear to be 'black' and not white. It is only after extensive time spent looking at the soaring bird that I have been able to 'confirm' the sighting as an adult bald eagle! Now compare that to the IBWO which was only a 'fleeting glimpse'. Surly it may be hard to see more than ONE field mark in that short time frame!

YET I was sure I was looking at a bald eagle BEFORE I saw the white head and tail!

TimeShadowed

Edited to add - I was hoping that a Moderator would move the comments from the original thread to this thread. But since that has not happened - here is the url where this discussion all began:
http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=33968&page=10&pp=25
 
Last edited:

Curtis Croulet

Well-known member
timeshadowed said:
Can HGR PROVE that the IBWO is indeed extinct??

He can't "prove" a negative. He can only cite reasons (which he has done) for believing that it is probably extinct.


It sounds to me like HGR has some 'axe to grind'! I would like to know just what that AXE is!

Agreed.


I do quite a bit of observation of the Bald Eagle and I can tell you that sometimes it is very difficult to "see clearly" the white head and/or tail of the eagle...etc.

I have had similar experiences. I sometimes find that, even with a bird that I've been able to study with a scope or binoculars for several minutes, I'll go back to the bird guide and see listed some important character that I completely missed.
 

Pileated_MO

Native Missourian
affe22 said:
Sorry I missed this. If I were someone watching a species that was supposed to be extinct fly past me, I think I wouldn't be paying extremely careful attention to every field mark I should. As buck has stated, people do make mistakes. I think I would be so excited that the adrenaline rush would overcome the "I need to pay close attention" and I have a hard time believing anyone would stay very calm at that moment. It's kind of silly to sit on the computer and say that we would do otherwise in that situation because none of us has ever been even close to that situation and I'm sure we'd all lose careful focus.


This just reminded me of the searchers doing all of that waiting, then when the bird flew past, yelling "ivory bill" out loud so the bird could hear it, causing him/her to fly away from them. That has bugged me, though I do understand how excitement could make someone do that.
I do believe that the Cornell people and other searchers know what they're looking at, and as someone who used to have no hope that IBWP's existed, I believe so now, and I'm ecstatic. As for how I would behave if I were to spot one, I can't say.
 

BarbaraM

Well-known member
You sceptics do know, don't you, that there were about 9 people, in several different groups, at different times, on different days, who identified IBW as part of the recent "rediscovery"? Not all of them were even part of the Cornell "team". Did they all experience hallucinations? Barbara
 

buck3m

Well-known member
humminbird said:
I do not find the "easy to find" contention supported by what these early century observers recall.

Well, as an easy example, in 1943 Pough found what was thought to be the last IBW alive. In 1944, Eckelberry went back, found and refound that bird over a two week period, and made detailed sketches of it, including the identifying marks the current observers were possibly too excited to see. This is a big, loud, impressive bird. The Lord God Bird.

Most of these photos were taken when the IBW had dwindled down to a relative handful. Compare them to the best photos from the paper.


affe22 said:
I think I would be so excited that the adrenaline rush would overcome the "I need to pay close attention" and I have a hard time believing anyone would stay very calm at that moment.

So you're arguing that they were repeatedly too excited to make accurate and complete observations? If so, wouldn't they be flawed reports? If they couldn't see things that WERE there, is it possible they saw things that WEREN'T there?



affe22 said:
Do we know they didn't hear the wings or see the identifiers?


Since they're in the bird guides as a defining sounds and markings, surely they would have noted it and recorded it in the paper. Although I disagree with the conclusions, the report looks well-written to me.


affe22 said:
The jay theory is as ridiculous to me as the IBWP sounds are to skeptics.

Apparently the authors of the paper disagree as quoted here: nasal calls closely resembling those recorded by A. A. Allen at the Singer Tract in 1935 were recorded at two places in the White River National Wildlife Refuge, but these may have been given by blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata, a notorious mimic).


affe22 said:
Why would someone be out there with IBWP sounds when hardly anyone knew what the small group was looking for? Don't you think they could establish that someone was playing an old recording?

Well, one group that was out there playing sounds was the searchers themselves. It's my understanding that at least once this was mistaken for "the real thing." (Later discovered.) Since, as quoted in the paper above, blue jays are notorious mimics, they could have "played back" the recordings. I think it would be very easy to slightly change an old recording and fool people.

I know many of you think this skepticism is heresy, but I ask you to be open-minded, too.

Please realize that I'm not claiming to be infallible. One example is when I temporarily identified a distant wart hog as a rhino. That's what I was looking for and that's what I saw. It's because I realize that no one is infallible that I think some of the observations were probably flawed, too.

When word of the ivory-bills rediscovery came out, I immediately emailed my brother. We were ecstatic. I was especially happy when I heard the challenge had been dropped based on the audio evidence. Personally, I'd always hoped, and wanted to believe, there were Ivory-bills all along. So did my brother.

I was shocked when I saw the actual evidence and read the paper. I may be wrong. They may live. If enough additional evidence comes along in the future, I WILL accept it. Show me a good photo along with a couple of good, close range sighting reports, and I am on board with the believers.
 

buck3m

Well-known member
BarbaraM said:
Did they all experience hallucinations? Barbara

From Sibley's Birding Basics as quoted in The Blog (I added italics and bold.)

---
...An observer might see something intriguing, say a large falcon flying away, and jump to the excited conclusion that it could be a Gyrfalcon, a bird normally found in the far north. The next step should be to pause and start from the beginning, looking at each characteristic objectively, but too often the overexcited birder tends to stick with the first impression and simply tries to confirm the identification as a rare species. Often, a very brief sighting does not allow any more detailed study, and the observer might choose to emphasize anything that can tip the balance toward the desired identification: "Yes, it did look long-tailed; yes, it was very dark; it just didn't 'feel' like a Peregrine,", and so on. Other poorly seen field marks that point toward a Peregrine Falcon--perhaps it looked long-winged, or seemed to have a contrasting white cheek--are then ignored.

This problem can result in a sort of "group hysteria" when large numbers of birders look at the same bird. The suggestion by one person that the bird is a certain species forms an expectation for everyone else, who then looks only for field marks to confirm the "expected" identification. In one very well documented case in California, the first state record of the Sky Lark (a Eurasian species) was misidentified for days, and by hundreds of people, as the state's first Smith's Longspur. The two species have a superficial similarity but are not even in the same family and can be distinguished by dozens of features. The initial observers expected a Smith's Longspur to show up in the state and never considered the Sky Lark as a possibility. Most of the people who went to see this bird over the next few days had the same expectation, augmented by the knowledge that they were looking for a "confirmed" Smith's Longspur.
 

timeshadowed

Time is a Shadow
buck3m said:
Let's establish this: do you believe that
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."


No! And again a great big NO OOOOOO ooooo!!!

As I said, I don't believe for one minute that the IBWO was EVER extinct!

The reason that the IBWO was not 'confirmed' seen was because the 'ones' doing the 'looking' were never looking in the right places, ie the way, way back deep swamps! And further these same 'ones' choose to disregard ALL reports of sightings by hunters and fishermen who WERE going deep, deep into the swamps.

TimeShadowed
 

timeshadowed

Time is a Shadow
It seems to me that all of HGR's questions and statements START with the fundamental belief that the IBWO was/is extinct.

He needs to be fair and consider the 'other side of the coin'. He needs to start asking questions as to why the 'experts' ever began thinking that the IBWO was extinct in the first place.

Why didn't the 'experts' follow-up on some of the 'sightings' by hunters/fishermen???

Until HGR starts asking 'fair' questions, his views are going to remain unpopular with some on this forum.

TimeShadowed
 

curunir

Well-known member
timeshadowed said:
It seems to me that all of HGR's questions and statements START with the fundamental belief that the IBWO was/is extinct.

He needs to be fair and consider the 'other side of the coin'. He needs to start asking questions as to why the 'experts' ever began thinking that the IBWO was extinct in the first place.

Why didn't the 'experts' follow-up on some of the 'sightings' by hunters/fishermen???

Until HGR starts asking 'fair' questions, his views are going to remain unpopular with some on this forum.

TimeShadowed
In California it was widely believed that mountain lions wouldn't hurt people until they bagged a few kids and joggers. The point being is that all previous claims of mountain lion attacks were poo pooed and dismissed and more importantly, never officially recorded as mountain lion attacks. And with as many as there are out there, I have never seen a mountain lion, or bear, or deer, dead of natural causes. I still think the big pecker lives!

Anybody ever notice that the video seems to show a woodpecker low on a tree that gets scared off when the boat gets too close? Will woodpeckers hide on the far side of a tree like a squirrel will?
 

buck3m

Well-known member
In reply to my question: "Let's establish this: do you believe that
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof?" timeshadowed said the following...


timeshadowed said:
No! And again a great big NO OOOOOO ooooo!!!

My quote is generally attributed to Carl Sagan, but has been a generally accepted scientific principle for a long time. If you don't accept that basic idea, it will do little good to debate using facts and logic.


timeshadowed said:
It seems to me that all of HGR's questions and statements START with the fundamental belief that the IBWO was/is extinct.

He needs to be fair and consider the 'other side of the coin'. He needs to start asking questions as to why the 'experts' ever began thinking that the IBWO was extinct in the first place.

Until HGR starts asking 'fair' questions, his views are going to remain unpopular with some on this forum.

Both he and I started with the assumption that the ivory-bill "return" WAS proven. It was only after looking at the evidence that he decided that it hasn't been proven yet. I was skeptical of HIM at first until I'd done some research of my own and read his blog.

I can assure you our views will not be very popular with some people, regardless of the merits of our arguments, until we say "the ivory-bill lives."

I think HGR has considered the facts very carefully, and come to a rational conclusion. Clearly, AFTER considering the facts (and looking for more all the while, including two-way calls/emails with David Sibley, Jerry Jackson, Richard Prum, Mark Robbins, John Fitzpatrick, David Luneau) he's arguing his side of the debate, as is everyone else here.


timeshadowed said:
Why didn't the 'experts' follow-up on some of the 'sightings' by hunters/fishermen???

I suppose because they didn't think they had merit. Experts can be wrong.


gws said:
The notion that "why hasn't a dead IBWO been found?" is simply ABSURD.

Not if there wasn't one to find. And with a population of only about 200 birds, most dead Whooping cranes are found. Not one IBW has been found.


gws said:
I do not wish to be unfriendly, but do some of our armchair experts understand the jungle that some of the Deep South swamps are?
Well, for one, I spent a few weeks in the swamps of east Texas looking for space shuttle debris.


timeshadowed said:
I do quite a bit of observation of the Bald Eagle and I can tell you that sometimes it is very difficult to "see clearly" the white head and/or tail of the eagle.

If you saw seven eagles, what do you think the odds would be of not seeing the white head once?


timeshadowed said:
I definitely think someone has an axe to grind, and have felt that for a while.

There is no axe. He just holds another view.
 
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