• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

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

streatham

Well-known member
Good grief, some of those folks look like extras from Apocalypse Now!

Adam

Even crazier than that John Lennon ( I'm assuming coming back from the dead) joined the second group search from January 14-28 this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;)
 
Last edited:

Russ Jones

Well-known member
I don't see your point pcoin. I think Mr. Hill has explained himself clearly, concisely and honestly. He has seen the bird yet has not gathered proof, therefore he cannot prove the bird exists but he knows personally that it does. Is it that hard to understand?

Russ

There is an interesting interview with Geoff Hill here (an Oxford University Press blog).

Some choice quotes:
  • We haven’t proven that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers exist in Florida.
  • If we go a couple more years without proof that at least one Ivory-billed Woodpecker still lives in North America, I think that claims of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers will lose all veracity....Arguments for preserving forested wetlands for ivorybill habitat will no longer be taken seriously. I wouldn’t call this backlash. I would call it a reasonable response to the failure of the academic and bird watching communities to prove the existence of a vertebrate species.
  • I can’t provide any technical comments on the Luneau video. It basically comes down to whether you see a white trailing edge on a black wing. Some see it. Some don’t. I see it some days. Some days I don’t.
  • In my opinion the Cornell group made one honest mistake—they convinced themselves that the Luneau video constituted definitive evidence for a living Ivory-billed Woodpecker and they published it as such....The assertion by the authors of the Science paper that the bird in the video is an Ivory-billed Woodpecker has not been proven wrong. What has been proven wrong is that the video constitutes indisputable evidence.
  • The thing that I feel is most damning to the Arkansas evidence, and now to our claim of ivorybills in Florida, is the failure of large organized searches to obtain a clear photo or video of the bird. I think skeptics can reasonably point to that failure as evidence that ivorybills no longer exist.
  • (But later he says) My best day was January 21, 2006, the day I got a clear look at an Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
Gosh, he got a clear look at an Ivory-bill, but he's not sure they exist, or has not proven they exist, or admits they may be extinct. I cannot quite follow the logic.

Likewise, I cannot follow his logic that the assertion that the Luneau video shows an Ivory-bill has not been proven wrong, but that the assertion that it "constitutes indisputable evidence" has been proven wrong. I guess it depends on what your definitions of proven and wrong are. (Where have I heard that before?) So I take a blurry photo of a black-and-white duck on the Atlantic coast and claim it is a Labrador Duck. Others disagree, pointing out it could be, for instance, an Oldsquaw. I'm not wrong--my assertion that the evidence is indisputable is wrong. Yeah right.

He actually sounds rather skeptical. (I'm no psychologist, but this reminds me of somebody with a major case of Cognitive dissonance.)

I guess his skepticism is good, on the balance--every scientist should be skeptical of their own data, at least at some point. At what point, however, is it irresponsible to publish data of which you, yourself, are skeptical, and which you know will have important policy implications? I guess it is not irresponsible if you really need a grant. (He says: Without funding we couldn’t continue to search, so our choice was either to bury our evidence or come forward. ) OK, with that inspirational thought, I'm off to write some grant proposals!
 

Mike Johnston

Well-known member
I see Rosann Kovalcik (Group 5) has her life-vest OVER her Swaros (you can see them dangling out the bottom). Is that in case she's tempted to actually use them?
 

pcoin

Well-known member
My point on Hill--self contradiction

I don't see your point pcoin. I think Mr. Hill has explained himself clearly, concisely and honestly. He has seen the bird yet has not gathered proof, therefore he cannot prove the bird exists but he knows personally that it does. Is it that hard to understand?

Russ

Yes, it is hard for me to understand--I feel Hill is holding two contradictory opinions at the same time. If I were sure I saw a bird that was believed to be extinct, or even very rare, I would only be sure myself if I had convincing evidence--approaching "scientific proof"--something that would satisfy a rarities committee, for instance. (I think I would really feel that way, especially, if I were a professional ornithologist.) Otherwise, I would say to myself, "well, I may have seen one, but I'm not absolutely sure, so I'll keep it to myself until I get better proof." I know my own fallibility as a birder, so I try to be cautious. For instance, in 1993, I had a very brief overflight of a large waterfowl in Costa Rica. It was large and dark, with white in the wing. I think it was likely a Muscovy Duck, but I had not seen a Black-bellied Whistling Duck at that time, and did not get a good-enough look to differentiate the two, given my inexperience. The Muscovy does not appear on my life list, but I did note the possibility in my field notes. Had it been a real notable rarity, I would not have been comfortable submitting it to a committee--I would have let it pass. On the same trip I saw a male Umbrellabird, a bit out of location for the season. I observed it for about 5 minutes with binoculars and took careful notes--the Umbrellabird appears on my life list.

To me, it is intellectually dishonest to say "I know I saw an Ivory-bill, but I have no proof. I think a good, properly documented sight record by a competent observer is proof. (And I have not seen such a properly-documented record from Cornell--at least in the 2005 Science paper, or from Hill's on-line publication. I know the Arkansas committee accepted the Cornell sightings, apparently based on the Science paper, but if you read the individual sightings, I feel they are all poor.)

I'll give an example of what I feel is an honest account of possible sightings--Jerome Jackson describes some possible encounters here, including one very suspicious set of kent calls in Mississippi. Later he heard a Blue Jay give a similar call in the area. But Jackson admits the evidence is inconclusive--he does not know he heard an Ivory-bill:

I thought that having a Blue Jay imitate the Ivory-bill's call might in itself indicate the presence of Ivory-bills. But weeks later I stood in a friend's backyard in New Jersey as a Blue Jay gave the same call -- outside the range of any Ivory-bill and in the absence of taped calls.

Jackson's approach seems more intellectually consistent. Again, Hill's opinions, are, I feel, quite self-contradictory. Self-contradiction abounds around the Ivory-bill saga, post 2004.
 

emupilot

Well-known member
Your standard of proof is different from the scientific standard. By your standard, the Ivory-bill "debate" was settled last Christmas Eve with Tyler Hicks' sighting. Scientific proof requires something measured - photo, video, or DNA - and not just an eyewitness account of a sighting.

Yes, it is hard for me to understand--I feel Hill is holding two contradictory opinions at the same time. If I were sure I saw a bird that was believed to be extinct, or even very rare, I would only be sure myself if I had convincing evidence--approaching "scientific proof"--something that would satisfy a rarities committee, for instance. (I think I would really feel that way, especially, if I were a professional ornithologist.) Otherwise, I would say to myself, "well, I may have seen one, but I'm not absolutely sure, so I'll keep it to myself until I get better proof." I know my own fallibility as a birder, so I try to be cautious. For instance, in 1993, I had a very brief overflight of a large waterfowl in Costa Rica. It was large and dark, with white in the wing. I think it was likely a Muscovy Duck, but I had not seen a Black-bellied Whistling Duck at that time, and did not get a good-enough look to differentiate the two, given my inexperience. The Muscovy does not appear on my life list, but I did note the possibility in my field notes. Had it been a real notable rarity, I would not have been comfortable submitting it to a committee--I would have let it pass. On the same trip I saw a male Umbrellabird, a bit out of location for the season. I observed it for about 5 minutes with binoculars and took careful notes--the Umbrellabird appears on my life list.

To me, it is intellectually dishonest to say "I know I saw an Ivory-bill, but I have no proof. I think a good, properly documented sight record by a competent observer is proof. (And I have not seen such a properly-documented record from Cornell--at least in the 2005 Science paper, or from Hill's on-line publication. I know the Arkansas committee accepted the Cornell sightings, apparently based on the Science paper, but if you read the individual sightings, I feel they are all poor.)

I'll give an example of what I feel is an honest account of possible sightings--Jerome Jackson describes some possible encounters here, including one very suspicious set of kent calls in Mississippi. Later he heard a Blue Jay give a similar call in the area. But Jackson admits the evidence is inconclusive--he does not know he heard an Ivory-bill:

I thought that having a Blue Jay imitate the Ivory-bill's call might in itself indicate the presence of Ivory-bills. But weeks later I stood in a friend's backyard in New Jersey as a Blue Jay gave the same call -- outside the range of any Ivory-bill and in the absence of taped calls.

Jackson's approach seems more intellectually consistent. Again, Hill's opinions, are, I feel, quite self-contradictory. Self-contradiction abounds around the Ivory-bill saga, post 2004.
 

Goatnose

Inspired by IBW
I see Rosann Kovalcik (Group 5) has her life-vest OVER her Swaros (you can see them dangling out the bottom). Is that in case she's tempted to actually use them?

O.K. I think she may use them at STUTTGART AIRPORT!!!!! I became totally frustrated with this Cornell group the first year when they could not produce. It is time to turn the search over to someone else. Who cares who…. Maybe Arkansas State or U of A at Monticello both has good bio programs. I can not see any mud on any of these searchers boots…no I am not going to call them searchers… …I can not see any mud on any of these guys boots. The reason why is Stuttgart airport is PAVED! If I read one more blog or comment from these guys about stopping by the airport to look for Sparrows or taking the day off because it was Saturday……JESSSSSSSS. A day off is a good day to look for the IBWO. Sparrows are nice birds but they did not come to Arkansas to walk around on pavement and look for Sparrows. They lead us to believe they came here to penetrate into the muddy swamps and look for the IBWO.
AGAIN and I have said it before, after three seasons of searching the White River Refuge I have never ran into any Cornell IBWO searchers…..however I am realizing now that they probably take the weekend and other days OFF. Time to give it up Cornell, time to turn it over to someone who appreciates this opportunity.
 

Jane Turner

Well-known member
emupilot; said:
Your standard of proof is different from the scientific standard. By your standard, the Ivory-bill "debate" was settled last Christmas Eve with Tyler Hicks' sighting. Scientific proof requires something measured - photo, video, or DNA - and not just an eyewitness account of a sighting.

This latest sighting doesn't meet your standards though does it. Pity he saw some red on the head. If the view had been a little worse, then maybe!
 

Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
I fully expect that no one will be in the same spot that Guthrie saw one (today or tomorrow or this week) with a tape to lure one in.

DOH!

Tim

The reason for this (and the reason why we are not admiring wonderful pictures of IBWO now) is because of the following logical steps :

1. Ivory-billed Woodpecker is a very rare bird that makes kent calls and double-knocks of which there are recordings available for the searchers to use.

2. Although using sounds as a lure is an almost sure way of eventually locating and photographing any woodland bird, it is a method that should not be used on rare breeding birds (such as the extant but very rare IBWO) as it is known to cause disturbance.

Shame, so close. Especially now we've got another one so nearly pinned down.
 

Ilya Maclean

charlatan
The reason for this (and the reason why we are not admiring wonderful pictures of IBWO now) is because of the following logical steps :

1. Ivory-billed Woodpecker is a very rare bird that makes kent calls and double-knocks of which there are recordings available for the searchers to use.

2. Although using sounds as a lure is an almost sure way of eventually locating and photographing any woodland bird, it is a method that should not be used on rare breeding birds (such as the extant but very rare IBWO) as it is known to cause disturbance.

Shame, so close. Especially now we've got another one so nearly pinned down.

IBWOs are probably extinct, however if they are not, we need to do something about it very fast or they will be. Tape recordings are of some detriment to birds - they expend unnecessary energy responding to them and in extreme cases can abandon breeding territories if they perceive the tape recording to be a threat. However, I think the case is justified for using them for IBWOs in a controlled manner, properly licensed through e.g. a University, especially outside the breeding season. The energy expenditure thing is easily outweighed by benefits of actually finding them and conserving them. Risks due to territory abandonment is in my opinion minimal, as it would imply that there is actually a territory (i.e. birds repeatedly frequent the same area) and that there is at least a pair present. Even if there was however, I think careful tape-playback at relatively low volume is highly unlikely to cause abandonment and would again be heavily outweighed by the benefits of actually finding them and thus ensuring conservation.
 
Last edited:

Ilya Maclean

charlatan
O.K. I think she may use them at STUTTGART AIRPORT!!!!! I became totally frustrated with this Cornell group the first year when they could not produce. It is time to turn the search over to someone else. Who cares who…. Maybe Arkansas State or U of A at Monticello both has good bio programs. I can not see any mud on any of these searchers boots…no I am not going to call them searchers… …I can not see any mud on any of these guys boots. The reason why is Stuttgart airport is PAVED! If I read one more blog or comment from these guys about stopping by the airport to look for Sparrows or taking the day off because it was Saturday……JESSSSSSSS. A day off is a good day to look for the IBWO. Sparrows are nice birds but they did not come to Arkansas to walk around on pavement and look for Sparrows. They lead us to believe they came here to penetrate into the muddy swamps and look for the IBWO.
AGAIN and I have said it before, after three seasons of searching the White River Refuge I have never ran into any Cornell IBWO searchers…..however I am realizing now that they probably take the weekend and other days OFF. Time to give it up Cornell, time to turn it over to someone who appreciates this opportunity.

Seem to recall quite a few sightings from moving vehicles, peoples back yards etc. Almost surprised there isn't a record from JFK yet. Surely you don't need to get your boots muddy to see them?
 

colonelboris

Right way up again
'Arkansas Volunteers'? Not only do they look like a militia, they sound like one. I can just see the swat teams going in on their underground bunker...
I've been out of the loop a bit - anything happen in the past couple of months?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top