Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Email to Jerome Jackson

An anonymous person forwarded me a copy of an email (below) that he recently sent to Jerome Jackson.

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.


Anonymous said...

"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."

You shouldn't be afraid to speak out.

What are you afraid of? Dr. Jackson and others weren't.

The evidence amassed so far practically begs for opposing views.

This is how you make changes and ultimately get to the truth.

Isn't that what we all really want?

Anonymous said...

Well getting to the truth would be a good thing. But if there were only 5 remaining pairs of these birds, they *might* be hard to find. Some species of birds have been inbred without affecting their fecundity. A tiny undetected relict population isn't impossible. Regardless of whatever bird Cornell has seen or thought it saw. However the damage to any relict population would be because so much was made of the Arkansas evidence. If there are any IBWOs left anywhere, they need to found before the fallout because now
people are anxious to declare the bird extinct. There are possibly many factors, including land-use,
politics, or feeling invaded by
the Ivy League. If Cornell comes up short let's quickly go back to discarding all potential sightings.
And then we can begin any projects,
like irrigation projects, that might have been put on hold because of the
Cornell sighting.
Hopefully any relict population will do well without our help if it's that well hidden. But it can't
expand its numbers without significant new protections.

Paul Sutera - New Paltz, NY

Anonymous said...

That latest release from Cornell about the oddly colored Pileateds makes it look like it has not been Cornell who have been misrepresenting the data...