Sunday, April 06, 2008

Where is the "original" IBWO in Arkansas sighting

Please forgive us for making a brief detour back into the IBWO mess/morass.

Today Louis Bevier posted something on BirdForum that included a request for a copy of Gene Sparling's first report of his "sighting" that was allegedly posted on the Arkansas Canoe Club bulletin board.

We say allegedly because we asked for that same thing two years ago, and we weren't able to find it, either:

Where is it???

(Hey, wonder if Louis was that commenter? Anyway...)

So, what gives? Either that post was erased/removed, or it never happenend. Back in 2006, we actually went through that board page-by-page through the date of the "sighting" to try to find it. What's the deal? Where is it? Was is ever there?


cyberthrush said...

As I recall the post was quickly taken down because it caused such an overload on the server... and probably never got put back up.
I suspect you can still find it (the pertinent sentences anyway, which are brief and vague, and don't add much to the debate) quoted at some sites or chatrooms somewhere on the Net or maybe somewhere in archives, but at this point, it wouldn't change much; but it was originally there.

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

We will translate Cyberthrush's comment from IBWOSpeak into English:

No, I haven't seen it, either, but you have to trust me that it was actually there.

cyberthrush said...

No, actually my recollection is that I DID SEE it at the time, but when I went to recheck it 3 days later it was gone. It was simply a post primarily about a kayak trip with the last two sentences or so being the cryptic lines in reference to a large woodpecker (he didn't call it an 'Ivory-bill').
In any event it has to be archived somewhere, because so many sites quoted it, at least in part, at the time; I'm not clear what the big controversy is here -- does someone honestly believe the post never happened???

Bill Pulliam said...

Instead of just polling the blogosphere as a whole, someone could try contacting Sparling and just asking if he has an archive of it. I know, I know, conspiracy theories, intrigue, and innuendo are more fun. But I think we've already had enough of those surrounding this bird.

I've been trying to remember his final words on the posting, to see if Google will hit on at least someone quoting it. Something like "I'm not saying what that would mean" or "I know what that might mean" or maybe something like that. I remember the same as Cy, that he never said he saw an Ivorybill. But my memory is really really vague on any particulars as to what he did say.

Conspiracy theories and innuendo aside, it would be an interesting historical document.

Bill Pulliam said...

OK this is the best I can do so far. From page 21 of:

This is a quote of the final two lines of Sparling's posting on Feb. 11, 2004 (it is not an actual archive of the full posting):

“I saw a large woodpecker and the black-and-white pattern seems reversed. You birders out there know what this implies.”

That's it. No huge size, no long wings, no herky-jerky cartoonish motion. All that was filled in later.

Will post more if I find it.

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

Cyberthrush's first two comments illustrate the problem with the whole IBWO mess. People who truly "believe" are so emotional about the issue that they use emotion instead of logic and reason. They listen to people who are using psychics to contact birds, and to people whose IBWO searches come second to their searches for Bigfoot.

The question is simple: Can anyone provide a link to the original post? There are really only two ansers: yes or no.

It's a simple, non-emotional question. Either the link exists or it doesn't. Bu that simple questions is met with the typical emotional response:

Cy asks if anyone "honestly believe(s) the post never happened."

That's the whole problem wrapped up into one sentence--it's not about what anyone believes. We're not asking for people's opinions on whether they think the post exists, or whether people "believe" it exists, we're simply asking for proof.

Now, in the end, whether that link still exists is not really.

We're interested in it as, as Bill terms it, a "historical document." Others are interested to see how Sparling's description of the sighting has changed over time. And yes, as someone did metion to us, it would not be unprecendeted for someone to concoct an IBWO sighting to "save" some habitat somewhere.

So, the question remains, can anyone find the original post? Cornell couldn't provide it, we couldn't find it, Louis Bevier couldn't find it, Bill can't find it (yet), can anyone find it?

Of course, whether that link still exists has no bearing on whether it once existed, and has no bearing on whether the IBWO still exists; it is just once tiny piece of the puzzle that hasn't been fully explained.

cyberthrush said...

Boy, talk about getting emotional!!... Posts disappear from discussion and chat groups all the time for all kinds of reasons. My answer was "no" the link no longer exists, unless the post was put back up after being removed early on. As Steve Martin would say, "Excuuuuuuse me," for thinking a mountain is being made out of a molehill here.

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

Funny how it takes three comments to say what could have been said in two letters: "no."

Louis Bevier said...

Thanks for trying to find that link BiNaC and for asking the point blank questions. I did not know you had posted on this long ago, and that wasn't me as anonymous back then.

Bill and cyberthrush: there is no innuendo, intrigue or conspiracy theory. I'm glad Birding is Not a Crime cut through all that to the simple question and answer.

I am curious why cyberthrush thought that the Sparling canoe club post was pulled due to overloaded servers. Just when would people have rushed to read that? Certainly not in spring 2004 when it was "unknown." By the time I tried in summer 2005, one had to sign up to the club, which seemed too much trouble to me then; I could just ask for it from folks I knew (they didn't come through with it though). In the end, this isn't that big a deal, but if you find anything, let me know. Thanks!

cyberthrush said...

"I am curious why cyberthrush thought that the Sparling canoe club post was pulled due to overloaded servers."

Louis, my vague recollection is that a day or so after the Cornell announcement, late April 2005, I found the posting (following someone else's link). But when I tried again a day or two I got messages like, "server not available" or "connection timed out" and then another day or two later when I finally got through the posting was gone. Just vague memories, sorry I can't be more helpful.

Bill Pulliam said...

More here-say and unconfirmable recollections from me:

I believe that I recall reading that the original posting was taken down within a matter of days, perhaps by Sparling himself, when someone protested to him that posting the location of his sighting in public could lead to disturbance of the bird. If this is the case, it would explain the absence of the posting from the Wayback Machine as that only updates monthly. I also thought I remembered having seen a quote of the complete original posting somewhere in 2005, but that memory could easily be faulty and it's very possible I only saw the quote of the last two lines. Interesting also that there are two versions even of those last lines floating around: the one I quoted and a more elaborated version from a newspaper account.

[One thing you will learn if you go back and reread old diaries, journals, and field notes: memories of details of past events are exceedingly unreliable, even after just a few months.]

I think the only two options to try to retrieve this post are from the listserv manager or from Sparling directly. I'm pretty sure now that no publicly-available copy of the full original text exists online anymore.

And yes, BINAC, that can be summarized as "no."

Louis Bevier said...

Thanks again for the recollections and two-letter "short answers." Like I said, it's not that big a deal. The public (independent) version would be preferable.

I find this all puzzling still. If the posting was made in February of 2004, then the Wayback machine should have picked it up unless deleted soon after that (possible). But if both Bill and cyberthrush think they saw it shortly after the announcement in April 2005, then the post must have resided on the canoe club servers for over a year. Plenty of time for the Wayback to get it.