Friday, August 26, 2005

About that video

It's looking like the Luneau video is the new Rorschach test. I'm interested that we're all looking at digital copies of the same video, yet we're seeing such different things.

1. Here's what Tim Gallagher says about it in "The Grail Bird", pages 224 and 225:
In the blown-up film, I could see what appeared to be a large bird with a black-crested head and a white bill peering out from behind a tupelo...I was completely floored. Virtually all of the ivory-bill's major field marks were there, albeit fuzzy.

I've tried, but I certainly can't see a black-crested head or a white bill. Can you?

2. Laura Erickson sees an IBWO:
...When you see the original, at the original speed, on a large screen, you see an Ivory-billed Woodpecker taking off from a tree--you see the white trailing edge, you see a hint of the white on the back, you see the rapid wingbeat, and you see that the real video, though out of focus, is not very grainy. You see a bird that is NOT a Pileated Woodpecker--we're looking at the full gestalt of the bird, not a piece-by-piece analysis in that first, uncut video.

3. Richard Prum still thinks it's a Pileated Woodpecker.

4. I file the video under "inconclusive, though probably a Pileated". I've analyzed the original video extensively at a variety of speeds both on a Mac screen and on a good-quality TV screen. I don't know what the bird is, but I certainly cannot clearly see any key IBWO fieldmarks. Some frames appear to show some white on the back, and in other frames, I see no white on the back. The extensive white in the video may be simply the normal lining of a Pileated's wing, as the bird powers mostly straight away from the camera. I see no reason why a Pileated couldn't fly at 9 flaps/second during an escape flight.

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