Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ivory-bill Madness

Once more, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) are in the news in a major way. Well, at least they’ve generated some excitement online, if not on the major airways.

The Ivory Bill Photo Project is a new Website recently created by Gary Erdy and Steve Sheridan to spotlight images of a possible Ivory-bill photographed at an undisclosed location within the historic home range in 2007.

As far as I can determine the first blogger to mention Erdy and Sheridan’s Website was Bill Pulliam of Notes from Soggy Bottom, who offered a detailed analysis of the evidence on 2/10/09. Pulliam re-posted his original note with several addenda on 3/7/09. He then followed this up in quick succession with related posts entitled Why it is not a Red-headed Woodpecker (3/10/09), How a bird’s neck works (3/10/09), and Proof and Probability (3/11/09).

Cyberthrush at Ivory-bills Live!! pounced on the possible new evidence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers with this News flash (3/09/09), followed by stories entitled March Madness (3/10/09), Stay Tuned (3/11/09), and A Plea (3/11/09). Cyberthrush’s four posts have generated an incredible 144 comments, a testimony to the degree of interest surrounding the search for this woodpecker. But what are we to make of the fact that the vast majority of the people responding to his posts have chosen to do so anonymously?

But before you wade into the thoughtful analyses performed by Pulliam or read the discussions stimulated by Cyberthrush, I encourage you to review the evidence provide at the Ivory Bill Photo Project. It has apparently generated considerable interest within official circles. I’ll refrain from saying more about my personal opinion at this point.


Blogger cyberthrush said...

Hey John, truthfully, I tried to play it down a little initially (never used the word 'flash' or 'bulletin' or such, but the story did grow quickly). And as to those 'incredible 144 comments' I suspect that was a few dozen folks going back-and-forth with one another. But yeah, it's an intriguing story, still deserving great caution. Be interesting to see if it still has legs next week.

March 12, 2009 7:41 PM  
Blogger Dawn Fine said...

Oh darn..I would love to hear your point of view on this!

March 12, 2009 9:51 PM  
Blogger Bill Pulliam said...

Hi John,

Actually my post was composed as a draft starting on Feb. 10, but kept from public view for the next month while I tweaked it and waited for the go-ahead to go public. It first appeared on my blog page at 00:00 Central time on 3/9/09. It all feels so cloak-and-dagger, or maybe almost like the way real journalist do it, all these tips and hints and off-the-records and NDAs and press embargos! There have even been secret meetings in hotel rooms at undisclosed locations. No midnight parking garages, so far as I know. "All The President's Woodpeckers" no wait.., that was something else. Let's not even get started on what the codename for the "deep background" informant might have been.

We birders must truly be incomprehensible to the rest of the world!

March 12, 2009 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a fucking shambles again.

March 14, 2009 11:17 AM  

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