Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Sighting Widely Accepted

https://www.ecowatch.com/amp/ivory-billed-woodpecker-sightings-extinction.html

“Not Extinct After All: First ‘Widely Accepted Sighting’ of Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Since 1944”

I had this exact hope earlier last year in September, that the Ivory Billed woodpecker was still alive in the vast swamps of Louisiana! Happy Friday news!

Also brings me to the topic, because we don’t have good “scientific” observations doesn’t mean we can classify something the way we think it is as a human, thinking and trying to understand how animals live spontaneously and naturally will lead better harmony with them and seeing the world a different way.

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I’ll believe it when I see an actual photo that isn’t bigfoot quality, which is to say, probably never.

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I thought it was found in Cuba in late 20th century. Is that record one that isn’t widely accepted?

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Well, this would be great! Although I have to say that I don’t understand how these photos can be that bad with the camera lenses out today. I think with a nice lens and shooting bursts of photos–hundreds of them!–it should be easier to get more definitive proof. The grainy nature of the photos makes me a bit dubious. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, but. . .

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The photos in the paper would not reach Research Grade on iNaturalist, at species level at least. :)

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This sighting/evidence has not been widely accepted by the scientific community (the mockery level on Twitter is pretty high, even for science Twitter).

Being on a preprint server doesn’t mean anything about the quality of the work. I’m sure some ornithologist types can chime in, but the level of the evidence presented certainly wouldn’t allow for a Research Grade iNaturalist observation :grin:

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lol jinx

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If these birds are around I would also expect to see photos of the wood chip piles they must make out of trees. Pileateds make a big mess, I imagine Ivory Bills chips could be gathered and used for mulch too. And the huge nest holes! The evidence of organism is missing.

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Interesting, is the whole genus adapted for similar lifestyle? Black Woodpeckers also leave a lot of mess, they especially love to feed at the base of trees.

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How is this the first “widely excepted sighting” when it haven’t been peer reviewed? Who excepted it? I think the title of the article is misleading to say the least. And those pictures are so bad that in some cases I could barely tell they were woodpeckers at all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a return story instead of an extinction story, but why can’t it ever be a good quality picture?

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I’m a bird enthusiast, and am also entertained by cryptids, thereby increasing and subsequentially decreasing my credibility to the matter.

The quality leaves something to be desired, though it certainly is difficult to immediately write this off as not an Ivory-billed Woodpecker (which is not to say that it is). The most compelling photo is in figures 2 and 3. The white saddle is intriguing, as the only other expected woodpecker to have this feature is a Red-headed Woodpecker, which is considerably smaller. The comparison photos in the third offer somewhat of a size comparison which makes it seem larger than a Red-headed Woodpecker, but it’s incredibly difficult to show this except if they were in the same place, as cameras render a 2d image that distorts depth which can have all sorts of funky effects on size.

I’m not a social media person but it would be fun to hear about how people are arguing if it is or isn’t.

Kenn Kaufman had a really nice writeup on the sighting which I’ll paste below:

"
Once again the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is in the news, with a team of researchers presenting grainy, distant photos and videos as evidence that this legendary bird still survives in southern U.S. swamps. Once again, controversy rages around the purported evidence: Do these images prove anything at all?

We’ve been through this before. The last clear photos of living Ivory-billed Woodpeckers were taken in the 1930s, and the last universally accepted sightings were in the 1940s. Since then, a certain cycle has repeated, with minor variations, over and over. Someone reports the rediscovery of the Ivory-bill in a surprising location. Initially there is jubilation—the bird is still with us! Then doubts set in as people pick apart the scanty evidence: the descriptions, the fuzzy and impossibly distant photos. Bitter arguments break out between believers and nonbelievers. As time passes with no more evidence forthcoming, hope fades and cynicism rises, and we wait for the next reports to surface.

In the past I’ve taken an active part in these arguments about the evidence, or lack of it. This time my view is different. It’s this: I’m just glad there are people who CARE so much about this bird.

Apathy kills. That’s true for wildlife as well as for humans. Around the world there are many millions of people, including many in positions of power, who do not give a flying fig about nature. They would not blink if even the most magnificent creatures faded to extinction, because they simply don’t care. They would not lift a finger to save any species. Of course, those who care passionately and those who don’t care at all represent the opposite ends of a spectrum, and many people fall somewhere in the middle. So the choice need not be so stark. But if it were, if I had to choose one extreme or the other, I would cast my lot with those who continue searching against impossible odds, with those who hope against hope that the big woodpeckers survive.

Yes, I recognize that the resources spent on these Ivory-bill searches could have been used, instead, to help endangered species that are definitely still with us. I have made that argument myself. But I also know people who had never thought about nature at all until tales of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker piqued their interest. The idea of a huge, flashy, mysterious, hyper-elusive grail bird of the trackless wilderness was enough to capture their imaginations. They would have scoffed at an obscure endangered species like Furbish’s Lousewort, but the giant woodpecker lit their fire. They care about it, they want to believe it survives. That is infinitely better than apathy, and somewhere down the road it may lead them to take action for other species that need the help.

So the periodic news stories claiming the rediscovery of the phantom woodpecker can serve a positive purpose.

Am I saying I believe the Ivory-bill is still with us? Well, no. Personally, I suspect it has been extinct for decades. But I would be absolutely overjoyed to be proven wrong, so my heart is with those who continue to search. I salute their passion and I applaud their efforts. Even if the impossible dream is never achieved, there is something magnificent in the act of dreaming it.
"

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Here! Here! Well said!

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There are two problems with this – first, what evidence we have for foraging techniques in Ivory-billed don’t support it – they apparently tend to scale bark rather then tearing apart snags and stumps. Second, Pileated are common throughout the range of Ivory-billed, so any such piles would simply be written off as Pileated work.

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I haven’t looked into these photos, but it seems to be a debated matter in science where some believe the species really is being observed, in some sightings even if not in others. It’s also true that better photo evidence would be ideal for independent confirmation. Previous info. about this from wikipedia is below. The page also says there had been a planned future vote over whether the species should be considered extinct. I wonder if any new evidence if it could be verified, such as the current article, would affect those decisions. It may be worthwhile to find out whether most other authors agree, disagree, or are evenly split in opinion with the preprint once it’s published.

Since 1944, regular reports have been made of ivory-billed woodpeckers being seen or heard across the southeastern United States, particularly in Louisiana, Florida, Texas, and South Carolina. In many instances, sightings were clearly misidentified pileated woodpeckers or red-headed woodpeckers. Similarly, in many cases, reports of hearing the kent call of the ivory-billed woodpecker were misidentifications of a similar call sometimes made by blue jays. It also may be possible to mistake wing collisions in flying duck flocks for the characteristic double knock. However, a significant number of reports were accompanied by physical evidence or made by experienced ornithologists and could not be easily dismissed.

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I saw this image -

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All woodpeckers can leave a mess - even the small Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers. They just don’t have a beak large enough to make large wood chips. Usually just bark, but sometimes small bits. I would guess that any large woodpecker would make the same larger chips.

They all have different tactics and lookfor different prey, Great Spotted doesn’t live such mess ever, Lesser Spotted would take a week to make a big hole, Green is into ants and not beetle grubs. So, what Black Woodpeckers leave is easily idable, they go through whole old trees, only leaving a carcass with all insides being on the ground.

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I highly doubt this paper after reading this Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/Alexander_Lees/status/1514555301365755907

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Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. This new evidence is far from extraordinary.

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With the amount of effort going into trying to prove this point, I’d be a bit surprised if no one is out extracting woodpecker DNA from piles of fresh wood chips and testing which species made each pile.

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