[Tweeters] RE: Ivory-billed Woodpecker Questioned

Brett Wolfe m_lincolnii at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 22 13:04:45 PDT 2005

Hi Mike and fellow tweets,

While I agree that records committees can be quite squirrelly about such things, does anyone really think that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Cornell University, The Nature Conservancy and the State of Arkansas would all stake their reputations on the announcement if they weren't sure? Because all of those organizations were very much involved in the rediscovery of the IBWO, and I seriously doubt that any of them would put themselves in a position to have their reputations impugned over such a major discovery as this, especially in a journal like Science. All of this is just my opinion, but I still put my money on those organizations and on John Trochet. The footage is grainy because it is a still camera that works off of movement. No other photos have been taken, because few if any sightings have been longer than a few seconds. I do take back my earlier comments about folks spending more time out in the field, as it has been pointed out that at least one of the questioni!
scientists has spent decades searching for the IBWO. And you can call it merely peer review if you want, but some of what I read still comes across as sour grapes (a better term than the "professional jealousy" term I used before), but then, a lot of 'peer review' comes across more like sour grapes than mere questioning. IMHO, the bird has been rediscovered, and I think that ultimately, this will prove to be the unquestioned fact.

Brett A. Wolfe
Seattle, WA (in San Joaquin Valley for summer 2005)
m_lincolnii at yahoo.com

Mike Patterson <celata at pacifier.com> wrote:
Are those who question the evidence brought forward to support
the presence of a Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas merely
suffering from sour grapes? I doubt it. This certainly happens
in the scientific community, but the timing in this case seems
more like the usual public peer review process. Finding an
Ivory-billed Woodpecker is a big deal, and the evidence needs to
be vetted thoroughly.

Would this evidence have passed a records committee review? Well,
records committees are notoriously squirrelly. They aren't always
composed of scientists. I even know of a few very competent
birders who can't get on recorders committees because they're
thought to be "too scientific". But let's turn the question on
its side. Suppose you saw an Eskimo Curlew at Nisqually. Would
you report it? or wait until you had unequivocal proof? Let's
further suppose that the bulldozers were at the park boundaries
in preparation to convert the curlew's habitat into something
that could generate more revenue for the refuge.

So, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker evidence (at least as presented)
would probably not have passed review, but it nevertheless was
appropriate to make it available for review. Birders report very
rare things on much slimmer proof all the time. It makes more
sense to report the evidence and take the appropriate measure to
secure the habitat and the capacity to get more proof, than to
wait until there's no doubt, especially when the habitat is under
imminent threat. Even if it turns out that the video shows a double-
tapping leucistic Pileated Woodpecker, there's no harm in nailing
down all that habitat for equally deserving creatures who lack the
sexiness of a big woodpecker.

Mike Patterson
Astoria, OR
celata at pacifier.com

Beginner's Luck.... on the science and serendipity of finding stuff
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