Please note once again that those are not my words. For better or worse, in recent weeks I've been receiving an increasing number of emails with a similar skeptical message and harsh tone--for many, it seems that Cornell's online Luneau video analysis may have been "the last straw":
Dear Dr. Jackson,
Your recent article in The Auk 'Perspectives' shines as a courageous and heroic example for all. I agree with your ornithological and political analyses 100%. Your exposition is thoughtful, well reasoned, thorough, objective, factual and well supported by the documentary and historical evidence. In brief, your article stands in stark contrast to the self-aggrandizing, wholly unsupportable, unsupported, and self-contradictory claims of those who wrote that they have proof that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker persists in continental North America.
As a life-long birder with 40+ years of field experience, I doubted the purported claims of "rediscovery" from the moment they were first disseminated. The data put forth is simply not proof of IBWO existence; indeed most of the data upon analysis actually confirms Pileated Woodpecker was observed, not IBWO.
I am outraged, as should all birders be, by the secretive, deceptive, and purposefully exploitative tactics and strategy of Cornell, TNC and USFWS in this matter. Sadly, the subsequent, highly selective releases of data by Cornell, TNC and USFWS to further their own ends, serve only to further discredit those institutions and to insult the public. In total, their statements prove not IBWO existence, but rather misidentification and misrepresentation, whether deliberate or otherwise. The latest egregious example is the Cornell web page of so-called "detailed analysis" of the Luneau video, purporting to show why the bird in the video is an IBWO. In fact, the comparison even to a layman actually reinforces the fact that the video shows an ordinary Pileated Woodpecker. I am angered that public funds and attention are being diverted from truly useful projects to protect endangered a! nd threatened species and habitats.
The majority of serious birders who are willing to discuss the topic with me are privately in agreement with your paper. But they are afraid to speak out.
Dr. Jackson, since I began birding as a kid, five heros inspired me in ornithology: John James Audubon, James Tanner, Roger Tory Peterson, Rachel Carson and Chan Robbins. Now, after four decades, I have a sixth hero. I was fortunate to meet Peterson, Carson and Robbins in person. I hope I can meet you some day too.
Congratulations on a fine article and a courageous, inspiring spirit.