The other day I posted a video in which a researcher claimed to have sighted an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the wet bottomlands of Louisiana. It didn’t prove to me that the bird still exists, but raised my Bayesian probability that it does.
One reason why researchers haven’t yet accepted the existence of the bird is that there are still no unequivocal identifying photos or videos of this bird in the wild. The more recent photos and videos are tantalizing, and make me think that it’s more probable than not that Campephilus principalis has not yet become an ex-species, singing with the Choir Invisible. But I’m still not convinced.
Yet over the last two days, a bunch of readers—seven, to be exact—have made comments asserting confidently that they have seen this bird. None of them have expressed doubt. My first response would be “No you haven’t: you’ve seen a Pileated Woodpecker”. If Ivorybills were that common, showing up in people’s backyards (!), then we would have good evidence by now.
So, go to the thread here; I’ve posted all the sightings that readers claim to have made. And feel free to answer those claims (or comment on them), but be polite. My response was “find a bird expert IMMEDIATELY, tell them, and get some good photos.” Birders can contact me if they want me to email the claimants telling them how they have to document the bird. Better yet, birders should VISIT all these people NOW.
Here we go. The first one has my response:
But wait! There are several more!
This one gives a phone number. Ornithologists and birders—GET ON IT!
For others who want to claim they’ve seen the real Ivorybill, here’s how to tell it from the similar (but smaller) Pileated Woodpecker. Look for the white “saddle” formed by the folded wings, as well as the sexual dimorphism.
Here’s the real bird from an Audubon website: