Skip to main content

A bit more on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

For some reason, the Blogger gods are preventing me from reading or posting to my own comments. All comments made to my blog do come to me as e-mails, though, so I do see them.

For a tiny but interesting glimpse into the emotions that swirl around the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, often veering off into personal politics and a thorough abandonment of any scientific method, take a look at the two comments posted to my Pale-billed Woodpecker post by someone who chooses to remain anonymous.

Several of the issues that serve to discredit some - not all, just some - rabid pro Ivory-billed believers come out in those comments.

He/her states "Links below TO A FRACTION of the material and reports out there but appartently [sic] all completly [sic] missed." She/he then goes on to give links to Geoff Hill's page on the search for Ivory-billeds in Florida. These pages are rich in circumstantial evidence, both poor videos and sound recordings, none of which can be unequivocally proven to be of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. In fact, in my opinion, I would say that the video material is certainly not an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and that probably none of the audio recordings of "kent" calls and double-rap knocks are, either. Geoff Hill, constructor of these web pages and a principle searcher in the swamps of Florida, states himself on the website:

Not Proof

Although members of our search group are convinced that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers persist in the swamp forests along the Choctawhatchee River, we readily concede that the evidence we have amassed to date falls short of definitive. Definitive evidence will come in the form of a clear, indisputable film, digital image, or video image of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker or perhaps from a fresh feather or DNA sample. No such indisputable evidence has been gathered since photographic images of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers were made in the Singer Tract of Louisiana in the 1930s.While we do not present our evidence as proof, we feel that the evidence that we have amassed is compelling and warrants a substantial follow-up effort.

I certainly applaud Geoff and Dan Mennill, and everyone else involved, for making extreme efforts to attempt to verify the existence of a bird widely thought to be extinct. They and others who share their data also deserve major kudos for sharing their findings, so that other ornithologists and interested parties can draw their own conclusions from the data. And I'd repeat, this is a case where all of us doubters would dearly love to be proven wrong.

For a surprisingly balanced synopsis of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, go here.


Erik said…
As a sideline observer to the IBWO debate I often find the comments by the "believer" camp to be quite entertaining. Some are quite passionate in their beliefs. There also appears to be no greater crime in their eyes than to be a skeptic or doubter waiting for more conclusive evidence. It's probably the reason that most of the high profile personalities in the birding world no longer publicly discuss the IBWO.

I also found the comment about bloggers having a journalistic responsibility to be interesting. It was always my understanding that a blog was simply personal commentary or opinion or a diary in an electronic format, not a piece of journalism.

I agree with your closing thoughts. I'll dance in the streets the day I'm proven wrong. But until then, I have to remain skeptical.

Popular posts from this blog

The Pinching Beetle, a rather brutish looking bug

The world is awash in beetles, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Few of them can match the intimidation factor of a Pinching Beetle, Lucanus capreolus, though. Those formidable looking mandibles look like they could slice off a finger.

Today was one of those coolly diverse days. I started off down in Fayette County, visiting the farm of a friend. He has restored about 25 acres of wetlands, and the response by the animal community has been nothing short of phenomenal. Blizzards of dragonflies of many species, amphibians galore, and nesting Blue-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe, and Sora. Among MANY other things. And all in a short two years. Add water and they will come.

Then, working my way home, I ducked into a Madison County cemetery that has a thriving population of Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrels, and shot images of our native prairie dog. Then, I stopped at a spot along Little Darby Creek, waded on in, and procured some pretty nice shots of various stream bluets and dancers. …

Calliope Hummingbird in central Ohio!

A hatch-year male Calliope Hummingbird strikes a pose. Small but tough, the hummingbird was feeding actively yesterday in 39 F temperatures. It frequents feeders and gardens at a home in Delaware County, Ohio, about a half-hour north of Columbus.

Fortunately, the wayward hummer appeared at the home of Tania and Corey Perry. Tania is a birder, and knew right away that the hummingbird was something special. For a while, the identification was up in the air, which isn't surprising. The Calliope Hummingbird used to be placed in its own genus, Stellula, but has recently been submerged into the genus Selasphorus, which includes Allen's, Broad-tailed, and Rufous hummingbirds. The latter two, especially, are quite similar to the Calliope in subadult plumage. Rufous is the default "vagrant" hummingbird here, with dozens of records and birds turning up annually. There is but one Ohio record of Allen's Hummingbird, from late fall/early winter 2009. Ditto the Calliope Hummi…

Snowy owl photography tactics - and things NOT to do

A gorgeous juvenile female snowy owl briefly catches your narrator with its piercing gaze. It's doing its Linda Blair/Exorcist trick - twisting its head 180 degrees to look straight behind. Owls have 14 neck vertebrae - double our number - which allows them such flexibility.

These visitors from the high arctic have irrupted big time into Ohio and adjacent regions, with new birds coming to light nearly every day. Probably 80 or so have thus far been reported in the state, and some of them have stuck around favored spots and become local celebrities.

I went to visit one of these birds this morning - the animal above, which was found last Friday by Doug Overacker and Julie Karlson at C.J. Brown Reservoir near Springfield. In the four days since its discovery, many people have visited as is nearly always the case when one of these white wonders appears near a large population center or is otherwise very accessible.

And as is always the case, people want to photograph the owls. And th…