David Luneau recently posted a further clarification on his web site, www.ibwo.org . I think it is a fair and reasonable statement, and I think that a lot of people who really want to believe in the IBWO sightings have gotten ahead of the evidence a bit. Remember, just because it's in the New York Times doesn't mean it's true. I hope that they get a decent photo of the bird soon, but until they do, doubts will linger. Also, we still haven't really heard from Jerome Jackson on this issue, hopefully he will comment soon.
Here is David's statement:
Clarification of the latest confusion
The press has recently covered events related to a paper written, but not published, by Richard Prum, Mark Robbins, Brett Benz, and Jerry Jackson. In response to the many emails and comments I have received, I will attempt to clarify the confusion with the facts.
Fitzpatrick et al wrote a paper that was published in the journal Science on June 3, 2005 (I was one of the authors of this paper). Prum et al wrote a rebuttal to that paper and submitted it to the online journal PLoS in England. We were shown their manuscript and given the opportunity to write a rebuttal to their rebuttal - it's the way science works.
On Friday, July 29, 2005, we submitted our rebuttal to PLoS. On seeing our rebuttal, Prum et al requested samples of acoustic recordings (recorded by Cornell's autonomous recording units) that we referred to in our paper. Upon hearing these recordings, they pulled their paper from publication and announced that they were now convinced that there was not just one IBWO in Arkansas, but at least two.
Interestingly, our team of authors does not agree on the origin of these sounds, which is why we didn't put them in our paper in the first place. We maintain that the acoustic information, while quite interesting, does not reach the level we require for "proof".
We have not found more than one IBWO (yet)!
The misinformation that more than one IBWO has been confirmed is based on statements by Rick Prum and Mark Robbins to that effect, based on their listening to three sound recordings one day. We have listened to thousands of sounds over many months and are not ready to make that conclusion. We would like to, but careful science prevents us from doing so.
Also note that Nature.com states, "Prum says he still thinks that the video is of a pileated woodpecker." Maybe someday they will publish their manuscript and our response so you can decide for yourself.
I hope you better understand the timeline and facts.
Tom Nelson, a Minnesota birder, has a different take on the whole situation, check out his blog at: http://www.tomnelson.blogspot.com/ I do believe that there is at least one IBWO in Arkansas, but Tom raises some good points. Remember, as someone (can't remember who) said, extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.