Campephilus Woodpeckers and eBird
The absence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWO) from the eBird database is difficult to explain. It’s not because sightings of IBWOs can’t be submitted to eBird (they can be). It’s not that there haven’t been reported sightings of IBWOs in the United States since 2002 (there have been numerous well-publicized sightings, including many published in books and peer-reviewed journals). It can’t be that people in a position to report IBWO sightings to eBird would be worried about ridicule from skeptics (the identity of the observer is not revealed to the public).
I can think of only three logical explanations to account for the absence of IBWO records in eBird: (1) IBWO sightings have not been submitted, (2) sightings submitted to date have been reviewed and rejected by eBird reviewers, or (3) sightings submitted and accepted as valid are being withheld from public view (for whatever reason).
Over at Ivory-bills Live!!, Cyberthrush opined that "The scorn of skeptics seems to have produced a 'chilling effect' on the disclosure of Ivory-bill reports." He concluded that "there remains a residue of reports from credible or potentially credible sources that also seem to be swept out of public view," but offered no opinion on the party or parties doing the sweeping.
As I have pointed out above, the anonymity afforded eBird observers protects them from the "scorn of skeptics" that Cyberthrush blames on what he considers a dearth of credible IBWO reports in the public domain.
Any knowledgeable field observer who has made what he or she considers a credible sighting of an IBWO has an obligation to report it. Don't let "scorn of skeptics" be an excuse.
So here’s the challenge to everyone who has ever made what they consider a valid sighting of an IBWO. Without further haste, log onto eBird and report it. Make the now-blank IBWO distribution map light up!
If anyone has other thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them.