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Ivory-billed Woodpecker (formerly updates) (1 Viewer)

MMinNY

Well-known member
If we accept the definition that field notes must be taken "with the bird in view", then even Hicks's notes/sketch don't qualify. After rereading all the accounts provided, I'm hard pressed to know how Wright distinguishes Hicks's notes from much of the other material that's posted, sketches, etc.

Geoff Hill does make it quite explicit that his more detailed account of one sighting was written three days later. The descriptions above his other notes are also pretty specific about their composition, although one heading is somewhat ambiguous.

Would more detail by helpful? Yes. Were they a little sloppy? Perhaps. Dishonest? Give me a break. . .that's taking nitpicking to the edge of defamation.



Tim Allwood said:
From Rick Wright

Ivory-billed Woodpecker: What Are “Field Notes”?

An easy question with an easy answer: they’re notes made in the field with the bird in view. But the newly e-published Auburn University paper conflates genuine field notes with the post factum written narratives of a sighting, calling the latter “transcribed field notes.”

The only field notes in sight here are the pages ripped from Tyler Hicks’s notebooks. And those are extremely interesting and profoundly suggestive pages; but the accounts that follow them are by no stretch of the imagination “transcriptions.” They are written memories, and should have been treated as such, with full information given about the circumstances of their composition and the time that passed between the original sighting and the drafting of the narratives. To suggest, as the paper does, that these are simply neatly typed copies of words scribbled in the field falls somewhere between sloppy and dishonest.

anyway, see below for an IBWO pic:
 

Winterdune

Well-known member
MMinNY said:
If we accept the definition that field notes must be taken "with the bird in view", then even Hicks's notes/sketch don't qualify. After rereading all the accounts provided, I'm hard pressed to know how Wright distinguishes Hicks's notes from much of the other material that's posted, sketches, etc.

Geoff Hill does make it quite explicit that his more detailed account of one sighting was written three days later. The descriptions above his other notes are also pretty specific about their composition, although one heading is somewhat ambiguous.

Would more detail by helpful? Yes. Were they a little sloppy? Perhaps. Dishonest? Give me a break. . .that's taking nitpicking to the edge of defamation.

I found some of the field notes to be lacking in detail and preciseness in a number of ways.

For example, one account mentioned a view of "five to ten seconds". There's a big difference there and it's not difficult to think back (immediately after the observation) and note it down more accurately.

It's also standard practice to give details of the optics you were usings (eg 10x42 Swarovski or whatever - it's not advertising it's important to know how clear the view might have been).

Another comment was "It seemed mostly black" but without further qualification of what feather tracts may not have been black. That's why field notes taken at the scene, immediately after the sighting, are so vital - you sit down, write it all down and be logical and methodical going from bill (and other bare parts) to tail. If you weren't sure about something you explain, more specifically than most of the field notes presented.

I, like others, have wondered about how much birdwatching experience some of the observers had. Does anyone know whether all the observers involved are practicing birdwatchers? Perhaps some were grad students who were given a crash course?

Or perhaps we just do things differently on this side of the puddle.

Sean
 

timeshadowed

Time is a Shadow
seanofford said:
Or perhaps we just do things differently on this side of the puddle. Sean

Sean,

I think you just hit the 'nail' on the head with that statement!

I truely believe that this 'debate' is more about 'birding rules' than anyone has addressed so far. I would venture to say that 'American Birding' is more relaxed than 'World Birding' is!
 

Mike Johnston

Well-known member
seanofford said:
I, like others, have wondered about how much birdwatching experience some of the observers had. Does anyone know whether all the observers involved are practicing birdwatchers? Perhaps some were grad students who were given a crash course?

Or perhaps we just do things differently on this side of the puddle.

Sean
In a recorded interview Dr Hill describes Brian Rolek as 'the least experienced birder in the group'. According to the Auburn website he is a Masters student studying passerines. Rolek was the one who made the first sighting within one hour of them starting to look. He was also the one who spent all of the 4 month period there, and is described as doing 60% of the looking, and who recorded the most sightings. Of the 4 months, Dr Hill was there every other weekend. Hill's main research is concerned with bird colouration. Tyler Hicks, who has been birding for 13 years and has worked at various observatories and leading bird tours, was there for a one month period and then a further 10 days later on. The other two in the group seemed to focus mainly on the recording end.

Not making any assertions, just passing on information that's out there.
 

IBWO_Agnostic

Well-known member
seanofford said:
Does anyone know whether all the observers involved are practicing birdwatchers? Perhaps some were grad students who were given a crash course?

Or perhaps we just do things differently on this side of the puddle.

Sean

This is how I tell if someone is a practicing birdwatcher. I google them. In the USA, each state has a birding listserv. People share their sightings on a regular basis. We also have state Ornithological Societies that usually have a lot of online reports. It's not foolproof, but it captures a good bit.

For example,
Google "Tim Allwood" bird
and you get several bird forum and tom nelson hits, but you also get a good bit on his bird sightings and trip reports.

Google "Mike Collins" bird and you get tons of stuff. Lots of IBWO stuff, but also stuff from his birding in the mid-atlantic states.

Google "Brian Rolek" bird
and it's all Ivory-bill

Google "Tyler Hicks" bird
and it is clear that he's a birder

Google "Geoff Hill" bird
and it's clear he's an ornithologist, but not really an active (posting) field birder

other google bits
John Mariani - birder
Tom Nelson - birder

(I can't research pseudonymous birdforum posters)
and really not all birders post on the listservs, just the active ones that like to share their sightings.
 

drongo

Member
Tim Allwood said:
Anyone who thinks 'secretive' birds can't be photographed, try www.orientalbirdimages.com

But there are counterexamples.

These guys should try coming down to Australia and getting a photo of Night Parrot or Coxen's Fig-Parrot - currently none exist. And the first photo
of a wild Western Ground-Parrot was taken only last year, although there were a few eariler photos of captured birds.

Night Parrot and Coxen's Fig-Parrot were never declared extinct despite being very rare and no specimens or photos being obtained for over 50 years - because there were occasional sightings by reliable observers. Some people thought they were extinct. But in 1990 a road-killed specimen of Night Parrot was found on a remote outback road by a group of ornithologists (including one of the authors of the standard taxonomy of Australian birds) who just happened to stop their car to look at some birds, right next to the dead parrot. I can't even begin to estimate the odds against this happening - they really lucked out. Whereas Ivory-billed searchers seem to be having incredibly bad luck at getting their evidence - but hopefully this winter we will see it.
 

gws

Guest
valley boy said:
perhaps Tim is playing games with you all, just a thought

It is a joke seeing some try to figure out the "informant." It is even a bigger joke when I see people prying Tim for information about IBWO tidbits that the "informant" has informed him of. Tim, of all people! For the record, I do think Tim has an "informant", but what happens when the "informant" is bullshitting most of it in an attempt to appear informed? :) Part of the lunacy of these threads, I suppose.

In reality, most of this IBWO discussion is just going in circles.
 

John Mariani

Well-known member
Is anyone else curious about how they responded to hearing IBWOs in the field? The guys in the field had 41 to 44 (Hill said 44 in the interview) sound detections of IBWOs. Apparently hearing the bird led them to only 2 brief sightings.

My luck in finding birds that I hear - Pileated Woodpecker included - is usually much better than that. Are these unapproachable super stealthy birds or are they not attempting to approach birds for sightings?
 

HASnyder

Well-known member
gws said:
For the record, I do think Tim has an "informant", but what happens when the "informant" is bullshitting most of it in an attempt to appear informed? :)

Agreed, and it's someone on this thread who consistently and unfortunately practices the "cloak and swagger" variant of wildlife management.
 

MMinNY

Well-known member
Thanks for the link. Listening now. Interesting and worth the time for all. You have to go about ten minutes into the segment.



Mike Johnston said:
In a recorded interview Dr Hill describes Brian Rolek as 'the least experienced birder in the group'. According to the Auburn website he is a Masters student studying passerines. Rolek was the one who made the first sighting within one hour of them starting to look. He was also the one who spent all of the 4 month period there, and is described as doing 60% of the looking, and who recorded the most sightings. Of the 4 months, Dr Hill was there every other weekend. Hill's main research is concerned with bird colouration. Tyler Hicks, who has been birding for 13 years and has worked at various observatories and leading bird tours, was there for a one month period and then a further 10 days later on. The other two in the group seemed to focus mainly on the recording end.

Not making any assertions, just passing on information that's out there.
 

cts

Well-known member
Originally Posted by James BlakeWell:
Choupique, this is an intriguing post indeed!
A bit of a shot in the dark: in the past you've written about features you believe to be diagnostic but which don't appear in the literature. Are you hinting that these features are in the Florida field notes?
best wishes James
choupique1 said:
good call brother james
Concerning these diagnostic features that have been held back. These sightings referred to "Loon like flight" and 'flight like a dabbling duck' another time. (Dec 24 2005). I figure a duck hunter would know his bird flights. Shooting from a blind or boat requires some working skills, including immediate indentification skills, right? Can't take a bird that may be out of season. If this is true then choupique would have a definite advantage at getting "The" picture. He would be used to sighting, raising the shotgun, following the line of flight, ID' ing the bird, all while keeping the pulse rate down.
 
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rhavard

New member
Florida sightings get developers attention

I regularly lurk here and I have been following the ongoing "debate" for several months with great amusement. I don't know if anyone has seen this but I ran across the following article from Wednesday's Miami Herald. Thought it might be of interest. This is another aspect of what's at stake in Florida, and shows the importance of a timely confirmation.

From the Miami Herald…

Rare woodpecker gets the bird from developers
BY FRED GRIMM
[email protected]
Heaven knows, Geoffrey Hill was braced for controversy.
Professor Hill had witnessed the outburst last year, after Cornell University ornithologists proffered evidence that the supposedly extinct Lord God Bird, aka the Ivory-billed woodpecker, was surviving in the woods of east Arkansas.
And, Lord God, a mighty ruckus shook the birding community.
Ivory-billed believers and ivory-billed skeptics went at each other like fighting cocks.
Bird blogs roiled with charges of lying and deception and fraud -- nasty accusations that jolted the image of folks given to long hours of quiet, contemplative observation.
''I knew it would be controversial,'' Hill said Wednesday, the day after Avian Conservation and Ecology published his evidence that the Lord God Bird, last spotted in Florida in 1924, was alive and nesting in the North Florida woods along the Choctawhatchee River.
POWERFUL DEVELOPERS
Indeed, all hell broke out. Except it was the nature of the controversy that took the Auburn University professor of biological sciences by surprise. The feathers he ruffled weren't just birders.
Hill and his woodpecker commandos had fouled the nest of builders and developers and the mighty St. Joe Co., the state's largest landowner with 1.1 million acres and an outfit not ready to relinquish the title of Lord God to some loony bird.
His journal publication came just 11 days after the Federal Aviation Administration had approved a 4,000-acre airport -- 700 acres bigger than Miami International -- too close for comfort to the Choctawhatchee.
NEW AIRPORT PLANNED
The sudden appearance of the Ivory-billed woodpecker looked like a commie tree-hugger conspiracy to politicians who were having a tough time already defending the notion of spending $300 million to replace the Panama City-Bay County Airport, 30 miles away.
Critics were complaining that the Panama City airport has seen a dwindling number of passengers over the last five years. That it was down to just a dozen commercial flights a day. That the new airport would devour 2,000 acres of wetlands and lead to the development of thousands more surrounding acres for new homes and shopping centers.
The airport boosters already were fending off charges that the real rationale for the new airport was to serve the interests of the St. Joe Co., with 70,000 acres, thereabouts. Then Hill tossed an endangered, back-from-extinction, federally protected miracle bird into the debate.
''And now I'm being accused of using the Ivory bill to stop the airport,'' Hill said Wednesday. ''Honest to God, I had no knowledge of this. Until yesterday, I was living in an academic world. I read bird journals. I was just a biologist obsessed with finding evidence that this bird still existed.'' Hill and his team said they had come across signs of the Ivory bill along the sleepy Choctawhatchee last year.
BRINK OF EXTINCTION
One of his bird experts said he made a sighting. They recorded its distinctive ''double-knock'' as it pecked away. One of the largest species of woodpeckers in the world -- if it still exists -- the big bird had been hunted into oblivion for plumes early in the 1900s while timber companies wiped out its cypress habitats.
Its range, which once extended from South Florida to Texas, steadily receded until the last known sighting (at least until the Arkansas find last year) was in Louisiana in 1944.
The professor said Wednesday the controversy that erupted over the Arkansas report caused him to keep it quiet until this week.
After consulting with the beleaguered ornithologists at Cornell, determined to avoid their mistakes, he led other expeditions to the Choctawhatchee and collected more information before going public.
''I knew I was stepping in a hornets nest,'' Hill said. But the biologist had no idea just which species of hornet would be going berserk.
 
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Ilya Maclean

charlatan
As I really can't be arsed to read through the umpteen thousand pages on this thread, its time to cut through the b*llicks. Could somebody please answer the following:

(1) Who on this thread is claiming it
(2) What evidence have you got (photos, field notes, recordings etc).
(3) Are your photos, field notes, recordings etc in the public domain
(4) If you’re claiming it, how experienced a birder are you - i.e. have you any previous records accepted by rarities committees or verified by multiple other observers.
 

emupilot

Well-known member
Here's my attempt to sum up 7,000+ posts in one:

Ilya Maclean said:
(1) Who on this thread is claiming it
Much of this thread is discussion of the claims by Cornell in Arkansas and now Auburn in Florida, but several people here have claimed to have seen IBWO, including (please correct me if I'm wrong or if there are more): cinclodes (Mike Collins), choupique, Jesse Gilsdorf, and tmguy.
Ilya Maclean said:
(2) What evidence have you got (photos, field notes, recordings etc).
Cornell had sightings with field notes, disputed video, and some recordings; Auburn has sightings with field notes and lots of recordings; Mike Collins has disputed video; tmguy has a clear photo which is disputed.
Ilya Maclean said:
(3) Are your photos, field notes, recordings etc in the public domain
Cornell you probably know about; Auburn is here here, here, and here; Mike Collins' web site is here; tmguy's web site is here, but his photo has been mysteriously replaced. tmguy posted a higher resolution version of his photo in #6023 in this thread.
Ilya Maclean said:
(4) If you’re claiming it, how experienced a birder are you - i.e. have you any previous records accepted by rarities committees or verified by multiple other observers.
Some Cornell and Auburn sightings have been by highly experienced birders; I'll let the posters here speak for themselves on that.

Ilya, I strongly recommend against starting conversations here about anything but the recent Auburn sightings - consider the other information for your own perusal only. For the rest, we've been there and done that, and we don't want to redo 7,000+ posts here.
 

gws

Guest
emupilot said:
Here's my attempt to sum up 7,000+ posts in one:


Much of this thread is discussion of the claims by Cornell in Arkansas and now Auburn in Florida, but several people here have claimed to have seen IBWO, including (please correct me if I'm wrong or if there are more): cinclodes (Mike Collins), choupique, Jesse Gilsdorf, and tmguy.

Cornell had sightings with field notes, disputed video, and some recordings; Auburn has sightings with field notes and lots of recordings; Mike Collins has disputed video; tmguy has a clear photo which is disputed.

Cornell you probably know about; Auburn is here here, here, and here; Mike Collins' web site is here; tmguy's web site is here, but his photo has been mysteriously replaced. tmguy posted a higher resolution version of his photo in #6023 in this thread.

Some Cornell and Auburn sightings have been by highly experienced birders; I'll let the posters here speak for themselves on that.

Ilya, I strongly recommend against starting conversations here about anything but the recent Auburn sightings - consider the other information for your own perusal only. For the rest, we've been there and done that, and we don't want to redo 7,000+ posts here.

70ivorybill78 can be added to #1, those who have stated that they have seen an IBWO, plus he has a very detailed website.
 
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fangsheath

Well-known member
Hill et al. - acoustic evidence

putative kents - Assuming that recordings were made day and night, as implied by the authors, putative kents occurred only during daylight and in fact never before sunrise or after sunset. There were two peaks, one in mid-morning (9:00-10:00) and another in late afternoon (4:00-5:00). This would seem to eliminate wind as a source. When putative kents for a given day are strung together it is clear that many of them are coming from the same source. However, it seems equally apparent that some are very different from others. Particularly, most of the putative kents recorded after 3/13 are relatively high pitched and have few harmonics. Virtually all of these notes have 3 frequency peaks separated by about 900 Hz, the first peak at about 850 Hz. This is a very poor match to known ivory-bill kent calls, which have frequency peaks separated by about 650-700 Hz beginning at about 630 Hz. It is also notable that many of these calls have no double-knocks associated with them. In fact, double-knocks drop off after mid-Mar and several days, including 3/15, 3/16, 3/22, 4/4, 4/9, and 4/11 have multiple putative kents with no double-knocks at all. Many of these putative kents follow the pattern I have indicated above. Many putative kents recorded earlier in the season, when double-knocks are common, are quite different. They are often lower-pitched, sharper, more nasal, and much less mechanical-sounding to my ear. They tend to exhibit many frequency peaks, the louder notes having a base frequency at about 550 Hz and the harmonics spaced about 550 Hz. This is exemplified by a fairly loud putative kent recorded at 11:34 A.M. on 2/10. This note has at least 9 frequency peaks, spaced about 550 Hz apart. Although this not an extremely good match to known ivory-bill notes, it is pretty close, and these may not be kent calls but some other ivory-bill vocalization. If they are bird sounds it is difficult for me to envision what species they might be other than ivory-bill. Lame suggestions such as blue jay, nuthatch, or heron are hardly worth considering. We are talking about multiple notes over periods of days, with no accompanying calls remotely like any of those species. Anyone who has spent a lot of time in southern swamps knows that these are very unusual sounds. However, we don't know for a fact that they are bird sounds, and it does seem odd that with all of these putative ivory-bill notes there is not one example of a series of relatively quick kent-like notes, as was recorded on 4 days in Ark and at the Singer Tract. One series of putative kents, that recorded on 1/22, seems rather moorhen-ish to me. These notes have about a 950 Hz spacing between peaks, quite un-ivory-billish, and moorhen sometimes do give occasional single notes like this.

putative double-knocks - Double-knocks were only recorded during the day. There was a peak in early morning (6:00-9:00) and another sharp peak in late afternoon (3:00-5:00). A few double-knocks were recorded before dawn but only a few minutes before. None occurred after sunset. These patterns are a sharp contrast the Arkansas results, in which double-knocks peaked pre-sunrise and just post-sunset. Florida double-knocks varied in internal knock spacing, with a mean of 115 msec. Arkansas double-knocks presented on the CLO website appear to have a knock spacing of 70-105 msec. Florida double-knocks within bouts tend to have similar internal knock spacing - compare the spacing of the series of 4 recorded on 1/20 to that of the series of 2 recorded later that same afternoon.

The incongruities between the Florida, Arkansas, and Singer Tract acoustic results are troubling. After the "killer" video is obtained (or perhaps even before) I hope that the Florida researchers will employ direction-finding to pinpoint the sources of sounds. This would not only potentially help to get estimates of the number of birds in the area but help reveal movement patterns and provide stakeout points. It would also eliminate confusion with distant sounds and pinpoint mechanical sources of kent-like sounds.

These remarks were intended for grownups. I welcome constructive criticism. Destructive or infantile remarks will be assiduously ignored.
 

emupilot

Well-known member
Nice analysis, fangsheath. Since we have a very limited sample of known IBWO recordings to work from, it's pretty hard to guess how much natural variability should be expected in kents and internal knock spacing. Are John Dennis' putative IBWO kent recordings available? How much variation in internal knock spacing (and "kent" frequencies if applicable) is there in other Campephilus species, like Pale-billed?

It's not necessarily surprising that double-knocks drop off after mid-March while kents don't, since the former is a territorial call and the latter would be communication between individuals. Again, lack of confirmed IBWO recordings would require us to use another Campephilus to guess as to whether this should be expected.
 

slobyn

Well-known member
Cornell has the recording made by Dennis. I don't know if it is made public as a sound file (separate from the Charif talk). But if one wishes to obtain a copy of the recording it is easy to record the sound from the stream that fangsheath has a link to below.

emupilot said:
Nice analysis, fangsheath. Since we have a very limited sample of known IBWO recordings to work from, it's pretty hard to guess how much natural variability should be expected in kents and internal knock spacing. Are John Dennis' putative IBWO kent recordings available? How much variation in internal knock spacing (and "kent" frequencies if applicable) is there in other Campephilus species, like Pale-billed?

It's not necessarily surprising that double-knocks drop off after mid-March while kents don't, since the former is a territorial call and the latter would be communication between individuals. Again, lack of confirmed IBWO recordings would require us to use another Campephilus to guess as to whether this should be expected.
 
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