Friday, June 30, 2006

"The Leak" About the IBWO

Well, there has been some discussion on Tom Nelson's site about the infamous leak that either did or didn't (depending on what random story Cornell decides to tell on any particular day) rush the original Science story into publication.

At the time, people associated with the Cornell team stated that the leak came from someone in the federal government, which is simply false. While I wasn't privy to the "rediscovery" story until a day or two before the press conference, I know several birders -- some on other continents -- who were not associated with the search but knew about it weeks before the official announcement.

Having said that, I think the first public leak on the story came from the little-known "New River Valley Birds" listserve in southwestern Virginia and Tennessee. That list has now moved from Yahoo to Google and the archives from April 2005 are no longer available, but in April 2005 I checked out this angle and that is indeed where the story first broke. My recollection is that someone involved with the search team talked to someone who posted the info, but if anyone has saved that thread from NRV Birds, please send it to me and I will post it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

SHOCKING UPDATE: Another Burrowing Owl seen in Illinois

There has apparently been another Burrowing Owl -- one of my nemesis birds here in Illinois -- spotted in Illinois today. OK, so it's not a Wood Stork, but remember what I wrote a few posts back:

The BINAC staff is headed to South Florida next week, so while we are looking at Wood Storks down there, don't be surprised if my bad karma sends one up Chicago-way.
We leave for Florida tomorrow. If you ask me, I think the top listers in Illinois should start paying for my trips.
UPDATE: Apparently the Burrowing Owl (found in Warren County, so I'm calling him "Warren") has been EATEN!!! I know there is a precedent for rare birds being predated but I can't remember the last time it happened to an Illinois rarity.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

ABC Results are Almost Ready!

A little birdie told me that the 2006 America's Birdiest City/County results are almost ready to be released. Chicago did very well this year, not sure if we won any categories, but it was definitely a much better showing than 2005.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Mr. Guppy Threatens to go the the Yahoo Police!!!

Whine, whine whine...


Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2006 23:45:54 -0700 (PDT)
From: "franks william"

Subject: Re: IBWO sites
To: "a b"

I am formally asking you to not e-mail me or I will
report you to yahoo as a harasser. If you continue to
slander me on yuor "blog" then I will seek action
against you.

I have done nothing to you, I have not engaged you and
yet you seem to like to mock me and attack me.

This will cease now.


Mr. Guppy Fires Back!!!

So, I sent a very nice e-mail to Mr. Guppy (I'm not sure if his name is Wiliam Smith now or William Franks or what) and I got a classic response (see below). Just trying to pish the flock a bit, as the lovely BirdChick would say. The best part is I think he actually has me confused with somebody who lives in Minnesota. (Don't all birding bloggers live in Minnesota?)

Pish, pish, PISH!!!

Date: Sat, 24 Jun 2006 23:31:06 -0700 (PDT)
From: "franks william"
Subject:Re: IBWO sites
To:"a b"

I've seen your picture, you are a mature man,,not a
kid,,why is it important for you to act like a child
and bash me publicly without ever introducing yourself
or even trying to find out who I am?

You've posted quotes out of context to paint a
negative picture of me, you've labelled me names that
are derogatory and yet you have never attempted to
have an adult conversation with me.

Ironically some of your other Minnesota birders have
done the same. What is it about your state that makes
you so hateful?

You are one of the reasons the internet has no
credibility, you hide behind a blog, you attack
people, and yet you are a grown man. It is shameful.

Go back to your blog and mis-quote me, poke fun, and
impress your circle of cronies.


--- a b <> wrote:
> Dear William;
> Can you give me a few hints on where I should look
> for Ivory-billeds in Florida? I would like to try
> to get a photo.
> Thanks!!!!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wood Storks in Indiana

A couple of Wood Storks have just been reported from Gibson County in Southern Indiana.

This is the time of year when a lot of southern species, specifically herons/waders, tend to wander north and west. These Wood Storks are probably a classic case of post-breeding dispersal, although I like the term "wanderers" a bit better. (Post-breeding sounds a bit naughty, doesn't it?)

Will this summer present the opportunity for me to rectify the biggest "dip" of my birding career? Of course, I am speaking of the infamous Palos-area Wood Stork that appeared in the Chicago suburbs a few years ago -- in a spot I regularly bird -- while I was in freakin' Australia. I still claim that the Palos bird was an escapee, but no one is buying that. The BINAC staff is headed to South Florida next week, so while we are looking at Wood Storks down there, don't be surprised if my bad karma sends one up Chicago-way.

Now back to my painting, with interludes of Avisys-ing.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Field trip to Indianapolis???

From 60 Minutes and birding comventions to Wild Bird Stores. Oh how the mighty have fallen. Indy is a bit far for a BINAC road trip, but if any of our readers go to this talk, please give us an update. I wonder what Bobby is getting paid for this stop?

Program: "Obsessed with the Ivory-billed Woodpecker"
When: Sunday, June 25
In our store 2:00 - 4:00 pm Program 2:30 - 3:30 pm
Where: Rivers Edge Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop 4040 East 82nd, Suite C-4 Indianapolis, IN 46250
Meet Bobby Harrison and hear his first-hand account of the rediscoveryof the Ivory-billed Woodpecker!
Don't miss this fascinating afternoon with Bobby, who in 1972, at age 17 read about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Life Magazine and became obsessed. He and his friend, Tim Gallagher, refused to accept the conclusion that the bird was extinct and traveled throughout theSouthern swamps in search of this "Ghost" bird. Their efforts were rewarded on February 27, 2004 when they made the first qualified sighting of an Ivory-billed in over sixty years. Reservations are recommended for the program portion of this event. Call 578-0770 to reserve your seat.
Gina JannazzoManagerWild Birds Unlimited4040 E. 82nd Suite C4Indianapolis, IN 46250(317) 578-0770

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Report a Spoonbill!!!

I know that updates have been few and far between over the last few weeks, but now that my travel schedule has settled down (until next week, at least) we have a few posts ready to go.

There is a very interesting Spoonbill banding project going on in Florida right now, check it out:

Since Spoonbills have been known to wander far out of their normal range (I remember seeing my state bird near Vandalia, Illinois a few years ago) these banded birds could show up almost anywhere.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Boston Gull Bashing

I have been in Boston for a few days, and here is one of the top local stories:

Office had bird’s-eye view to kill: Workers say window washer slayed gull with vengeance
By Jessica Heslam and O’Ryan Johnson
Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - Updated: 10:14 AM EST
Bird-bashing window washer Christopher Guay - arrested after killing a sea gull - had his goose cooked by his boss yesterday as eagle-eyed witnesses from a nearby office building pecked away at his self-defense claim.

MSPCA ruffles his feathers: Animal lover says treatment is for the birds
Guay, 40, was canned by his employer after news of his battle with the bird took flight. “They said there was too much bad publicity,” he said. “I’m out looking for another job right now.”
Guay was arrested by an MSPCA officer and has been charged with animal cruelty, a felony. The owner of Cliffhangers Inc., Guay’s employer, could not be reached for comment.

The window washer says he has numerous pet birds and loves them. But some Hub office workers say they watched in horror as he cold-heartedly delivered a fatal blow to the gull - then saw them watching and promptly flipped them the bird.

Sarah, a witness who spoke on condition that her last name not be used, works in a cubicle overlooking the Devonshire Street rooftop where the sea gulls built their nest as she and her co-workers kept a daily vigil at the window.

She called Guay’s self-defense claim “absolute crap.”

“He deliberately walked over to the nest and began to beat them,” said Sarah. “He was batting at them, swinging and missing quite a bit. When he swung, he completely hit her and she flew. It was not a nice, gentle, get-out-of-the-way swing.”

For six weeks, she said, she and other employees watched as the pair of sea gulls built a nest for their family. Two of their eggs hatched Thursday, and the workers hung out a congratulations” sign and another urging window washers to be careful of the gull babies.

Guay told the Herald he fended off three birds all day Friday while washing windows. He said he didn’t mean to kill the bird and said he used a broom stick. Sarah said the gulls had swooped down toward the window washers Friday only when they came near their nest. Guay went after them with a three-foot-long pipe, she said.

“My whole floor, as every other floor from my company, was banging on the glass and screaming,” Sarah said. “He started batting at them up in the sky intentionally and then beat the mother bird down totally dead to the ground.”

“It was horrifying,” she said. “We were screaming, crying and banging on the window.” She said Guay dropped the pipe, noticed the pleading employees and then “flipped us off, grabbed his crotch at us and started shaking himself and flipping us off.”

Meanwhile, the MSPCA - which has refused comment on the story from the outset - reported yesterday it has been flooded with angry calls it blamed on “unbalanced media reports.” The animal welfare agency declined to elaborate due to pending legal proceedings, but said, “suffice to say that if the MSPCA had found the defendant’s self-defense story credible, it would have chosen a different course of action.”
Maybe the window washer should have borrowed a few of Mayor Daley's collies to chase the gulls away.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Calling Out Mr. Guppy: William Smith, Are You Still Out There?

OK, our favorite IBWO searcher, Mr. Guppy, aka William Smith, aka ThatMagicGuy, has apparently poked his head out of the pond again. We've been holding this post for some time since we have heard some rumblings that Mr. Guppy would reappear. Someone with the screen name "TMGUY" (aka ThatMagicGuy) from Florida has been making some strange posts on BirdForum lately. So, it looks like this is not a false start. It's the real deal. It's


Here at BINAC we love Mr. Guppy aka William Smith because he's so much fun. Who else could write masterful prose such as this:


Then there is a very small percentage of people who frequent the internet who are intelligent, who are looking for a quick way to transmit intelligent information and dip into the this sick and mentally deranged pool that is known as the worl wide web.You decide where you fit.Our society is crumbling quickly.Our society's health is crumbling quickly.Our society is becoming obese, sick, and stupid.
That is Mr. Guppy at his finest. Now, when we last left Mr. Guppy, he had taken his ball and gone home because people on Bird Forum had the audacity to question the photo that he posted on his web site. Now, there are a lot of IBWO "True Believers" on Bird Forum, and if your sightings start getting ripped by them, you are in deep trouble.
So here's the deal. We here at BINAC are getting tired of this delusional clown. Mr. Guppy, it's time for you to put up or shut up. Show us the original photo you claim is of an IBWO. Show us the photos you took immediately before and after the photo you posted on your web site. Explain to us why the bird is in an orange tree. Explain to us why there is a house (or some other manmade object) in the background of your photo. Explain to us why the bird in your photo doesn't have any eyes or feet. Explain to us why the bird in your photo looks like it is...well...not a live bird. That would be a good start.
Why is this guy still on our radar screen? Because he has either taken a nearly-perfect photo of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, or the whole thing is a hoax. There's no in-between. You can say what you want about the evidence offered by Cornell and Mike Collins, but neither of them are putting stuffed birds into trees and taking photos of them. As the debate rages on as to whether the IBWO exists -- and if so, how many still fly, and where, and what can be done to save them -- it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. So let's find out, once and for all, whether William Smith is the wheat or the chaff.
Mr. Guppy, if you want to state your case, this is your your chance. There are no BirdForum moderators here. Fire away.
This ought to be fun.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Rookie Mistake in the Big Apple

I know those namby-pamby birders who think all birders (except for themselves, of course) are evil constantly refer to the ABA's "Birder's Code of Ethics" or similar codes, but that really doesn't help the average birder that much. I've been working on a "Birder's Ten Commandments" and a "Birder's Bill of Rights." Like Jefferson, I will take my time and get them right.

Last weekend I was in NYC and I made a "rookie birder" mistake. The rule I violated should probably be the first or second Commandment:

"Thou shalt not travel anywhere without thy binoculars. ANYWHERE."

I am so ashamed. I knew we were not going to be near Central Park, so I figured there would be nothing to see. We did the typical tourist things...went to Yankee Stadium...

...saw some of the important historical sites...

...and so on, and so on.

And then my family decided they wanted to go to the beach. To see the Jersey Shore. To visit Sandy Hook. WAIT A MINUTE---SANDY HOOK????? Where are my *&%$#@* binoculars??? Why didn't you tell me we were going to Sandy Hook? I would have brought my *&$% binoculars!!!

Never again will I make that same mistake.

Well, except today. Because right now I'm in the UP (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and I DIDN'T BRING MY *&$*%(@&;^%*$ binoculars!!!!

Oh, the shame, the guilt, why did I make the same mistake twice!!! Maybe this is a sign from heaven that I should buy a good pair of compact binoculars...I hear that some of the smaller Zeiss compacts are a great deal.

P.S. The Arthur Treacher's on the NJ Turnpike makes the best hush puppies in the world. Can't stop eatin' 'em.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

There have been quite a few birding blogs that have linked to the "mannakin moonwalk" video lately. The lovely Birdchick posted a link. Why, Laura Erickson at BirderBlog even took a brief (but appreciated) break from shilling her new book and whining about comments to post a link to the moonwalk video.

Of course, loyal readers of this site saw the very same "mannakin moonwalk" video back in... wait for it...October 2005:

So if you want to see what will be posted to BINAC later this week, check out those other sites in, say, December.