Wednesday, August 03, 2005

ENV: Ivory-bills: more from Cornell

Ian Paulsen has posted this additional piece to TexBirds without comment. It contains some further details on the discussion. Interesting also that in this Cornell newsletter they awarded plaudits to Kim Bostwick for her work on Club-winged Manakins, but did not even mention co-researcher Dr. Richard Prum of Yale, who also happens to have been one of the Ivory-bill critics . . .

Also check out these posts from Bootstrap Analysis

Ivory-bill flap

Critics convinced

And my previous posts and links here:

The First Final Word

Tom Nelson Commentary

Ivory-bill Redux until Absurdem

Ivory-bill Dispute II

Ivory-bill Dispute I

Ivory-bill Conservation Stamp

Muscogee and Ivory-bills

Science Magazine Article

Ivory-billed Woodpecker: the Movie

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Not-Really-a-Cat

More on the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Rediscovery

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Rediscovery

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Rediscovery

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Rediscovery

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Rediscovery

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Rediscovery

Notes from a Search Team Member I

Notes from a Search Team Member II

Van Remsen's email

Ivory-bills and Cuban Embargo

Tanner Imperial Woodpecker Report

1990s Imperial Woodpecker Report


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.


IVORY-BILL CHALLENGE DROPPED

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!

Man Oh Man What A Manakin!


Groundbreaking research into mysterious wing noises has earned the Lab's
Kimberly Bostwick national attention. Her paper on the Club-winged
Manakin was published in the journal Science this week and picked up by
other mainstream media, including the New York Times and National Public
Radio (NPR). Kim is Curator of the bird and mammal collection at the
Cornell University Museum of Vertebrates, housed here in the Johnson
Center for Birds and Biodiversity.

Armed with a high-speed camera, Kim determined that this manakin makes
popping tick sounds by shaking hollow-cored wing feathers together. The
loud ting note is created when the stiff, curved tip of one feather rubs
against a line of ridges on the central vane of the adjoining feather--a
process compared to rubbing a spoon against a washboard. On top of that,
the manakin shakes its feathers an astonishing 100 times per second. Even
the hyper hummingbird only manages 50 wing beats a second. While insects
are known for rubbing body parts together to create sounds, this is the
only bird found to use the same technique. The Cornell Chronicle also has
a great article on this fascinating research.


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