Ornithologist and Ivory-billed Woodpecker expert, Dr. Jerome Jackson, who has an impressive list of professional accomplishments, including the excellent book, In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Amazon (2004), has finally spoken out about the rediscovery of the IBWO in a peer-reviewed paper [free PDF] that was recently published in one of the most respected ornithological journals in the world, The Auk.
In this 15-page paper, Jackson asserts that the evidence put forward by the search party participants simply doesn’t rise to the level of scientifically valid “proof” as portrayed by the media. Basically, this rediscovery relies heavily on audio data to back up mere seconds of poor-quality video of an individual bird in flight, a bird that may or may not be an IBWO. Further, the sound data may not be credible: several other bird species found in the same area, as well as individual humans, are known to make calls or sounds that are remarkably similar to those produced by the IBWO.
But beyond that, the potential rediscovery of the IBWO is sadly illuminating because it reveals disturbing truths about our current government’s environmental policies — policies that gravely threaten the continued existence of more and more species, just as the IBWO was endangered by previous policies, if it even survives. Policies that we, as a nation, support. If the IBWO is a metaphor or icon that captures our cultural attitude towards nature in general, I ask; how many more IBWOs are in our future? Read more about it in this well-written commentary.