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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

World Bird Wednesday LXXIV










Jumping To Conclusions


It hasn't been a great half-century for woodpeckers in North America, in all likelihood two woodpecker species on this continent; the Ivory billed of Cuba and the American South, and the largest woodpecker in the world, the Imperial of the old growth forests of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in  Eastern Mexico, have had their extinction moments. Pause for thought.
   But are they extinct with a capital E? Is there still hope? Are these confounded Ivory-billed woodpecker sightings true?
   Who the heck knows...
   Still, you can't help but get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach now that the Ivory-billed is being called the Elvis bird. When a hopeful sighting of the missing woodpecker comes in from the Arkansas "Big Woods" it never arrives with a picture. Usually the lucky person who spots the world's rarest bird somehow fails to drop their binoculars and pick up their camera in time. There's more evidence of Sasquatch.
   Cornell University has verified a 2005 video, the Luneau tape, as having an Ivory-billed woodpecker in it. This is the only visible proof that these birds survived into the new millennium. Cornell has justly earned its considerable reputation and their analysis of this vaunted video rivals anything done to the much clearer film of the Kennedy Assassination. On the reliability of their findings valuable resources were rushed to aid what may have been the last Ivory billed woodpeckers then on the planet. It hasn't gone so well since.


    In a world where good news is acutely needed, the undoing of an apparent extinction deserves our time, money, and resources. There are none but the worse cynics that hopes the Imperial and Ivory-bill are gone, but without a conclusive picture, support for the expensive search process has begun to fray around the edges.
    Even Cornell's desperate $50,000 reward for a verified sighting remains unclaimed after years. Why not make it a $5,000,000 reward? Wouldn't it be worth it to possibly save a species?  I wonder if Cornell U would pay on a Cuban Ivory-bill Woodpecker if any there survive?
   Undernourished hopes are all we have that our collective conscience can avoid the stigma of having been on watch when these birds ended their existence. The deathwatch is agonizing.
   Scientist postulate it would take a minimum twenty or so Ivory billed woodpeckers to repopulate the now regenerating forest.
   If they are still hanging on: God help them and forgive us.

A short video describing the high tech search techniques.



    I was sitting on the couch, the window open, with camera in hand shooting front yard feeder shots when a male Pileated woodpecker landed in the maple tree. My eyes got as big as flying saucers. The prosperous Pileateds are less fussy about their old growth forest requirements than their unfortunate cousins, the Ivory-bills and Imperials were. This handsome bird came back around over the next day thrilling Suzanne and I with great looks and photographic opportunities.We never saw the female. Believe me, my camera was never far from my hand all weekend long.
    Here's hoping someone in the Old South collects that 50 G's for a similar capture of an Ivory-billed very soon!


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55 comments:

  1. Lucky you!and what shots you managed.Have a great wednesday!

    Shantana

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  2. OMG...you have just made my day!

    As you know by now, I am getting very fond of Woodpeckers, my backyard count now consist of Red-bellied, Pileated, Downy, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and my newest Red-headed. All are still living in my backyard and the Red-headed is in the process of nesting in the abandoned Red-bellieds hole.(this weeks post)

    Wouldn't $50,000 be a nice little retirement bonus..hint, hint!

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    1. That is a great backyard count Wanda. I am dying to see a Red-headed and YB sapsucker one day. Good luck with the Red-headed nesting, those will be interesting pictures!
      Given the inhospitable nature of that swamp I think we would earn every cent of that 50G.

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  3. Awesome shots!
    Happy WBW to you!

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  4. Iknow we have Pileated Woodpeckers in our area, but I have never spotted one. It has been my goal to get pictures of them for years. Your pictures are marvelous. They are such a gorgeous and interesting bird. I am with you on the Ivory Billed Woodpecker ... another of mankind's crimes. Man is so reckless and most don't even know (or care) about what we have lost ... sigh. Once again, I love your pictures. I got goosebumps when I saw your header and today there are more. Thank you ...

    Andrea @ From The Sol

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    1. Thank you Andrea, I got goosebumps too!

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  5. WoW, WoW, WoWzers.....great title, awesome photos!!

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  6. gorgeous pileated shots! we have a pair here, thankfully. i don't see them often but i will occasionally hear them. :)

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  7. Glorious shots of a glorious bird. Intresting video - not sure 4 months of mosquitoes is wrth the 50k though

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  8. That first shot is just amazing!

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  9. Wonderful shots of the pileated woodpecker. If only I could get one or two like that.

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  10. Love the header shot with the light on the head!
    It is exciting isn't it. I'm so happy one resides in my surroundings.
    The video was quite interesting. Even without a picture the evidence suggests the ivory-billed is there - that is good news.
    Beautiful post!

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    1. Isn't that light amazing? The dappled sunlight just lit up the head. What great luck to be sitting there 25 feet away, I am still shaking!

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  11. well, sometimes I think we have to be happy for the ones we have left. Stunning shots of this woodpecker. :)

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  12. Great photos of the Pileated! The first one is really nice! I see them in the woods often, but never around the house. I've heard rumors about the Ivory for a long time. I keep hoping someone will produce a current photo. Any time there are "possible" sightings, it's enough to keep that sliver of hope alive.

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  13. Super images of a species I only ever got to see very briefly some years ago after hours of searching ... but I'll definitely know a Pileated if I ever see one again.

    Interesting survey video ... let's hope their efforts come to fruition.

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  14. Amazing shots! I LOVE your header photo!

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  15. Exquisite shots of the woodpecker, - interesting post!

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  16. Your photos are wonderful! I have never gotten that close to a pileated woodpecker!

    Wouldn't it be great if the Ivory-billed woodpecker were still in existence? But then what? Would we be able to keep them going?

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  17. I am so impressed with your photos of the pileated!! I have never seen one that close!!!

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  18. very beautiful this red cap :) wonderful captured!

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  19. Springman, what a wonderful variety of birds in todays links!
    Your Pileated shots are great. They have been quite elusive to me. I've managed shots of only two! They certainly are a sight to behold.
    The wonderful Spotted owl has been reduced to two breeding pairs in British Columbia. They are doing better south of us. B.C. used to have a good population. They depend on old growth forests and those have for the most part been decimated by logging. I fear the old will never recover. Such a travesty.

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  20. I love these captures of the Pileated Woodpecker. I had a brief glimpse of one once, but never a chance for a shot.

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  21. Amazing shots and a very interesting post.
    I have never seen a woodpecker around here.

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  22. A spectacular header! And a great shot with the woodpecker just about to land in the first post image too. It is a sad demise of the Ivory billed woodpecker after reading your commentary. Four months in mosquito infected swamps sure takes some dedication for the team seaching in the Florida swamp. Another really interesting birding account from you Springman.

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  23. I love your Pileated woodie photos, Springman. They are all amazing photos. I am hoping that there are some Ivory-billed Woodpeckers around and they are not completely gone. That would be sad, if none were left. I have hope! Great post, have a wonderful week!

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  24. A lovely little bird to see... I am always in awe of your wildlife..
    Great images..

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  25. Dave, you know how to make a woodpecker lover sad! First the tale of the Ivory-Billed , and then the Pileated in the header and post!

    We are a woodpecker free zone in Australia. I managed to see Pileated on a couple of trips to the US and I have to say they remian a highlight!

    Cheers - Stewart M

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  26. How many times I've seen these guys, and can never get a good shot. VERY impressive Springman!
    Have a great week.

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  27. The Woodpeckers you photographed are beautiful. The ones that no-one can photograph are a terrible indictment of humanities' care for our planet!

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  28. A Pileated, how wonderful. And, he gave you some great poses too.

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  29. Funny, just had my old copy of "Still Life With Woodpecker" in hand while cleaning house today... then I see this. Serendipity I guess. Was thinking about you earlier today too when I saw two magpies out in our back yard catalpa tree doing a courting dance... I ran for my camera, but was too late. Too Late the Phalarope...

    Ah, too late the dodo, too late the dusky seaside sparrow. Were I dealing tarot cards, I can only imagine the card that would come up next would be... the dunce... for what humans are doing to this paradise, this one and only paradise of ours. If only we could turn the clock back.

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    1. Owen, so sad and so true! Well said!

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    2. Serendipity? Perhaps, with equal part synchronicity!
      Hey Philip! I have a 1st edition copy of Robert Waller's Old Songs in a New Cafe that includes his essay I Am Orange Band, his thoughts on the passing of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow. Powerful reading I have enjoyed on your recommendation.

      "this paradise, this one and only paradise of ours."

      I drink a toast to you Sir!

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  30. Beautiful birds, and almost falling into your lap too!

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  31. Your banner pic literally took my breath away! My son saw his first Pileated a week or so ago.... his reaction was priceless and awesome.

    I believe there are Ivory bills out there..... I do believe, I do believe, I do.......

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  32. Wonderful photos of this beautiful woodpecker!! And an interesting post aswell. Have a nice day!

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  33. I always look forward to not only viewing your beautiful collection of bird images, but I also enjoy how you are with words, and this one...you have it once again so right on! It is a sad thing to lose any species, and we must TREASURE all those living species we have now. The new bill on the dockets which could derail the lives of many Eagles and other large birds would be dreadful! I love the voice of the Pileated...I wonder what the Ivory-billed sounded like, or better yet, what would the voice of a Dodo bird have sounded like... Have a great week~

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    1. "we must TREASURE all those living species we have now."

      How is this not universally understood?

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  34. Wonderful shots of the woodpecker! It was heartening to know that the ivory billed wood pecker is still around!

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  35. I have tried and tried to get a good shot of these birds...the best I have been able to do was one shot on top of a telephone pole...these are wonderful! Thanks for the info on the ivory-billed and imperials. I don't know as much as I should about birds, I can see.

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  36. Beautiful shots!
    Woodpecker has always been my favorite bird of all times.

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  37. You are so lucky to have gotten these perfect shots!I have always believed that we still have the ivory woodpecker,they have just managed to be reclusive,phyllis

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  38. HWBW Springman! Great weekend !

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  39. I am SO jealous Dave. I have been trying to get a decent shot of a Pileated Woodpecker for a couple of years. They are not too plentiful here in Northern California. Your photos of this specimen are fantastic! I will try again this summer at Lassen Volcanic National Park. I hope the Ivory-billed is still hiding somewhere. Thanks for including the video!

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  40. Springman, well you have certainly captured everyone's imagination and heart with this post! I fell in love with Ivory-bills long ago when I first read about them. Before I was a more experienced birder I use to hope that I would be the one to find one in some remote area of the forest. When I saw my first pileated woodpecker in upstate NY, of course I hoped it was an Ivory-billed, but alas, it was not. I agree with you for I still hold out hope against hope that this magnificent bird is still alive somewhere!

    I fell even more in love with the species when I read an account of Audubon capturing one to draw and paint and he brought it back to his hotel room and left it in a cage. When he returned later after his dinner the bird had chiseled its way out of the cage and way working on the wall. It had already created a hole that was almost big enough for it to escape! That kind of wild spirit and desire for freedom always gets my vote and my respect!

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    1. Awesome story Kathie... That kind of spirit would be a great advantage for the Ivory-bill!

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  41. Thanks for the graphic account of those woodpecker's misfortune at the hand of man. It is a sad but not uncommon tale. Enjoyed your shots of the Pileated but obviously not as much as you enjoyed taking them!

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  42. Is your Phone in the Car????? Sorry.

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  43. What a great shots of the Woodpecker! I can often hear them near my house, but I've almost never seen them. My first time here, as an absolutely newbie when it comes to bird photography:)
    Have a nice day:)

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  44. Great post Springman. I love woodies. Your Pileated images are super!

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