Sunday, February 19, 2006

Another More Credible Ivory-billed Sighting?

If you have been following the discussion on Bird Forum, you know that a fellow named Mike Collins from Virginia has spent some time searching for IBWOs in the general vicinity of the Pearl River, and that Mike has had a couple of interesting sightings in the last few weeks. (Hey, off-topic for a minute, but does anyone remember the great Sandia Crest rosy-finch controversy of a year or two ago? The woman who was responsible for that mess is one of the BF moderators, which is one reason why that Forum has some credibility issues. I was at Sandia Crest shortly after that incident happened and after personally speaking with several people who were present on that day...well, let's just say that the folks at Sandia House have my respect for how they handled that loon.) Back to the point: Mike now feels confident that he has seen a pair of IBWOs. You can check out his account at his web site, Fish Crow.

Two reasons people have been so skeptical of Cornell's Arkansas expedition is because there were very few prior IBWO sightings in that area, and Cornell has spent two years there without finding any real concrete proof. The Pearl has what is arguably better IBWO habitat, and has a history of prior IBWO sightings (not just limited to the Kulivan sighting) that Arkansas does not have, so it has always been high on the list of possible IBWO areas.

It will be interesting to see where this goes from here: Will Mike be able to get a photo, or will this remain a single-observer sighting, like so many past IBWO reports? And if this sighting is verifiable and repeatable, who will be in charge of the recovery efforts in that area? Will Cornell head south, or will some other NGO be put in charge?

It would be quite funny if one guy in a canoe in Mississippi got the proof that Cornell has spent thousands of hours and millions of dollars trying to obtain in Arkansas.

Anyway, good luck to Mike, but I'm still in wait-and-see mode until we get more proof.


Anonymous said...

So what do you think of the recordings and video frame captures now that you've seen them?

Birding is NOT a crime!!!! said...

I am underwhelmed.

I can't say that Mike didn't see an IBWO...but the proof he has set forth so far falls far short of what I need to really believe him.

I'll repeat what I said a few weeks ago: I really hope that someone does get a decent photo of this bird, but the more "false starts" we have, the more I begin to wonder.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly his evidence to date proves his case to reasonable people. Here's the clincher video frame:

Birding is NOT a crime!!!! said...

Anyone who thinks the photo you linked to is a "clincher" is delusional.

Look, I really hope Mike has found IBWOs down in the Pearl, but the evidence put forth so far is a field notes, no audio recordings that match any recorded or described IBWO call, and no identifiable photo.

Now, again, that doesn't mean he hasn't actually seen "the bird." I sincerely hope that Mike gets a stunning photo of a pair of IBWOs, and soon...but until he does, I am simply not convinced. The excuses for failing to get a decent photo of this bird seem to grow every day.

Mike compares the alleged wariness of the IBWO to that of a Yellow Rail or Connecticut Warbler...two species which, I might add, have been seen by dozens of birders (and photographed) within a mile or two of my home in downtown Chicago.

One day I'll scan that Yellow Rail photo...