Thursday, August 25, 2005

ENV: Ivory-billed Woodpecker soundfiles

I've spent a while on the Cornell site this evening listening to the recordings made recently in Arkansas, and which were presented today to the AOU in Santa Barbara.

While i can't say conclusively anymore than anyone else (since no one was there to pair these recordings with a sighting) that these are definitively the bird -- i, as many others do now, believe that this is just additional strong evidence which, combined with the other materials already presented, points far more strongly to Ivory-bills than any other explanation, including Blue Jays, nuthatches (and i certainly think distant gunshots can be ruled out), or other birds or animal species.

Skepticism is good. It focuses the efforts of those who are doing the analyzing. I'm sure Tom Nelson will have more to say and will post a link in the comments. I have to say that i disagree strongly with his analysis of recent days, yet his voice needs to be heard.

In any case, as i said when i first saw Guy's video, i got goosebumps listening to the recordings.

From the NYT

Sound Files Ease Doubts on Elusive Woodpecker
By JAMES GORMAN, The New York Times, August 25, 2005


SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Aug. 24 - For half a century, ornithologists and birders have been searching for the ivory-billed woodpecker. Now the public can hear online what scientists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology say are the calls and rapping on wood of living ivory bills in Arkansas.

Since the sighting of an ivory bill in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge was reported in April in the journal Science, doubts have been expressed by some ornithologists about the evidence presented. But after hearing the sounds now available, two of the leading skeptics, Richard O. Prum of Yale and Mark B. Robbins of the University of Kansas, said they had no doubts that the bird still lived.

They withdrew a critical paper, but said they still did not agree that the Science article had sufficient evidence. It was the sounds, not part of that paper, that convinced them.

The researchers presented those sounds today at the meeting of the American Ornithologists' Union here at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

They are also making the recordings available on the Web site of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, birds.cornell.edu.

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