Wednesday, August 03, 2005

IBWO Challenge Dropped

I just received this forwarded email written by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology regarding the IBWO.

Dear Lab members and friends:

The furor over the rediscovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker has once again been making headlines, but we're pleased to say it has a happy ending. We'd like to bring you up to date on many ivory-bill developments and pass along the latest news from some of our ongoing projects.


Last month we learned that several well-respected researchers planned to publish a paper in the Public Library of Science that would dispute the conclusion that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker had been found in eastern Arkansas. In drafting a response, Cornell Lab of Ornithology director Dr. John Fitzpatrick supplied sound recordings from Arkansas to back up the claim that the bird still lives. After hearing those recordings, the challengers immediately withdrew their paper from publication and promised their full support in the continuing search for and study of the ivory-bill. The initial challenge, and the retraction, have been the subject of stories in the New York Times, Washington Post, the Associated Press, National Public Radio (NPR), and elsewhere.

The sounds that convinced the skeptics were gleaned from thousands of hours of recordings made in the Big Woods by autonomous recording units (ARUs). They captured sounds resembling the kent call that the ivory-bill is known for, as well as possible double-knock display drums, first from one bird and what seems to be a reply from a second bird! You'll be able to hear these recordings when we post them on our web site later this month after the sound analyses are announced at the American Ornithologists Union meeting--we'll let you know when they're available.

Other developments:

    * Experts in the Lab's Bioacoustics Research Program are continuing to analyze 18,000 hours of sound recordings gathered in Arkansas from the ARUs. Special software screens the recordings for sounds of interest.

    * The Ivory-billed Woodpecker Recovery Team has been formed under the leadership of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. They will draft a recovery plan for the bird. This group will also include some Lab staff involved in the original search.

    * The Lab has been designated the official repository for ivory-bill sightings from the public. With that in mind, we've created an online reporting form to better collect that data.

    * If you haven't yet visited, be sure to check out all the information we have available on our web site related to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.

    * If you'd like to become part of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker "support team" we have special gifts for various levels of support.

    * Special issues of Living Bird and BirdScope have just come out, devoted entirely to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. They contain first-hand accounts from those who sighted the bird, as well as updates on the techniques that led to the rediscovery. Members receive both these quarterly publications. Find out more about becoming a Lab member.
    Field work will resume in Arkansas in November, when the leaves are down and the weather has cooled. Once again crews will be braving the swamps (and snakes) hoping for another look at the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and trying to capture a clearer picture of the bird, either on film or video.

Whatever happens, we'll keep you posted on the latest developments!


© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

2 Peer Reviews:

Blogger Tabor said...

This seemed to be the jist of the NYT OpEd column. I was so glad to hear it. This is what makes Science great, challenge the premise,supply the data and analyze! (By the way, the mythology comment was a joke--guess my humor is a little too dry.)

7:24 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Tabor; I imagine that the NY Times used this press release as the source for their op-ed. I am happy to see that it was clearly said to the Cornell Lab members (and the NYTimes readers) that science is all about finding the truth, even when it is an unpopular truth such as questioning the veracity of the IBWO sighting. (personally, I think the bird lives, but I do think it is very important to make sure that this is the case .. why waste our precious few environmental resources trying to save a possibly non-existent bird species and its damaged habitat?)


3:24 PM  

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