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S. Barker, E. Swarthout, R. Rohrbaugh  

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Sara Barker; Elliott Swarthout; Ron Rohrbaugh; Ivory-billed Woodpecker search  

Interview 59:18 - 1:25:46 Play 59:18 - More
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Ivory-billed Woodpecker search  

NPR/NGS Radio Expeditions
17 Aug 2005

    Geography
  • United States
    New York
    Tompkins County
    Locality
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology
    Latitude/Longitude
  • 42.4800624   -76.4514796
    Channels
  • Stereo
    Sampling Rate
  • 48kHz
    Bit Depth
  • 16-bit
    Recorders
    Microphones
  • Sennheiser MKH 418S
    Accessories
    Equipment Note
  • Stereo=1; Split Track using Neumann KMR-81 to 0:57:09; Decoded MS Stereo using Sennheiser MKH 418-S to end

dat # 3 cornell
chris joyce
8-16-05

Sara Barker (s)
Elliott Swarthout (e)
Ron Rohrbaugh (ron)
Tim Gallagher (tim)
Ken Rosenberg (ken)
Ben ________ (ben)
Chris Joyce (cj)

6:30
my am elliott swarthout (e) I'm crew leader for search in ark. was leader in 2004-2005 search .. set up websites for folks to track sitings from around teh country.. try to educate people to geatehr information. have a sort of weeding out process. foru setp .. in right geog. location, right habitatat, then id tips on bird and if at the end of that they still think they've seen an ivory bill then they go to 3rd party webiste, they fill in data on line. we download it into a database .. been running for two weeks, 37 hits so far. dozens a week that don't go to website just emails. trying to get them to go thru webiste. reduces time for us ...

cj: all aroudn the country.

e: 8: 00 yes, canada, many from canada. there's pileated allover.

(ghroup talk) saskatchewan...etnhusaists

r: golf courses and bird feeders are pretty common

s: especially backyard bird feeders

8:35 sara barker (s) project coordinator id. i mostly coordinate volunteer effort as well as help with logistics of project in pallnning search.

9:56 (talk about woman who videoed some crows and image flying with them.. so exicted tryign to speak into recorder to say what she was seeing...about eight seconds.

11:00 ron .. k.c. taylors sighting .. she was doing the best shoe coudl hoped she got sdouble raps she heard on the video, she was certain she had it running when she heard double raps, but mics on those cameras don't pick up sound very well.

** 11:20 so tha't one of the things wIre workign on for novrneber, to outfit researchers with higher quality recording gear so we don't miss thos ppportuhities again.

** my name is ron rorbaugh (ron) and i'm in charge of the search project here at cornell.

12:00 ** in terms of the lessons we'v elearned in two years, there are many some difficult ones as well one is certianly to be prepared at all times, you're tlaking about a bird little bigger tha pileated woodpecker, traveling large distances every day mabye 12 miles, large home range, 10 miles square maybe, when yo finally get a encounter, it'll be fleeting look as it flies aboe the canpy so yo have to have a camera ready at all times.

with Luneau video, the famous four seconds, april 2004, he got by having tripopd in center of canoe continuously, wee we are working on techniques to keep them runing in canoes and ovbs posts , you run into complications with this, things like battery life, to keep a camera going all day long you have to have lots of batteris, 12 volt bataery and inverter, being prepared and always having audio and vide recoridng gear is one of the important lessons. **

cj: previous sighitngs over the years. maybe we should check them out.

ron: yas for sure. 14:20 defintiely. many of thos epeoprl were scoffed at, thoghyt they wer seeing ghosts but many of theose sighitng might have been real.

14:40 the sightings by fielding lewis in louisaina are intriguing to me they have not ben followied up on with throough serarches, that's on our agenda, to get donw to atchafalaya and other places, other parts of arkanss.

eliiot: nothing is off th etable all those old reports are being reconsidered seriously.

sarah: 15:30 we hare looking thru historicla reocrds and asking people to submit sighitngs into our data base. so tryign to get local folks to check out records.

ron: our coming out with our rediscovery is in a way been something of a straw man ..

15:55 we're getting picked at a little form all ssieds, but it's given other confidence to come forward wiht their sitihgitngs bec. they've said ok this cornell lab or ornight is bearing the brunt of a lot of criticism that others might have got if they came foreard and we give them the confidence to come forward to say yeah in athalafaya in 81 i did see one and now come forward. eliot: collaborating with feds and states, setting up infrastructure, state ecprerts who know lodal areas well, to be th eleads in following up on reported sighitngs in their area, it's an ongoing process at the omoment,

ron: DOE and usda combined have promised 10 milion

17:15 ronl!: we are just starting to see tha tmoney. us fws helping us to hire right peole and reosurces to build data base and archive all sithgintgns sinec eapril 2,OOO-odd sightings just into cornell and other agencies e.g. ark, fihs and game comm, and usfws near brinkley have heard aobu sightings, we have to be able to query the data base to see where to foolow, we'll have a coordinator with folks in southe and southesta and see if they are real or not.

18:30 cj: who hires .. ron: cooperative agreemnt, we enter into contract with them, they give money and we hire the staff. we haven't hired anyone yet, just getting money, expect to have a job posted in next couple of months. doesn't know about tnc.

19:10 tnc focus is land ac cquisitino, easements.providing field station we can use year round, provide logistical support to gain access to prperty, providing equipment.

eliot: 19:45tnc setting up woodpecker symposiums (or helping? check) also bene working with us to set up prpotocals for habitat mnipulations.

20:07 been news rpeorts lately about girdling trees ..or using herbicides *** to reate more woodpecker feeding habitat. the forest out hteer is amazingingly dense with trees, the number of trees for this is timy comprared to 200,000 acres of habitat. ron:

20:30 ******ron:
ibw nomadic, food resources are spread aroudn far apart, so havs to travel only can suspect in today's inv. with degreaded less forest the bird is limitied by food and maybe even more so than traditioanlly so by creataing tree kil plots or zones where trees are girdled, they wil die and decay and become occupied by beetle larvae the food for ibw then we hope it will be able to find food to make a living.

we are all three biologists. life spent with birds. so we are ornithologists.

cj: 22:00 how did thsee birds survive. he bottleneck

22:30 we can only speculate RON: in areas where we find it now in white and cached river i think resdient there all the way thru but could have come pu from atchalafaya basin..moving might have been diffiuclt 50 to 60 years ago these large pathes of forest were not connected, were not corridors for the bird to move. tnc and fws have reforested many of these palces we do now have some connectivity, its pspeculation the bird may have been able to move around but also could have been there alll along, the white river espcieally is a really remote place it doens't get a lot of attention esp by ibrders, the bird its tough to find and hear, if yo dont' know what to look for or listen to it coudl go unnoticed a long time. ***

24:00 sarah, it's oculd be in the areas hardest to reach, where they coudln't get to cut. and we don't kow how it's adaptaed over the yars, we have historical evidenc ethru tanner, re habitst, but we don't know what it's adapted, maybe using secondary growth the samller padtches.**

25:00
ron: this is a bird that was nomadic an dmoved long sistnaces, as it disperses from atal terriorty and moved very long distance shirstiorically" oculd do that today, but has it adapted to moving ocross unsuitable haibtat, cut over roreests or rice field or interstate highway, does it corss interstate 40 it prpbly does to go back and forth and we don't know for sure, if it does it suggestes its apated over past 40 yeras.s

eliot: tanner work from mkdd 30s .. just based on a handful of pairs of bird 26:10 we don't know muich more than that. it was en d of their last stronghold. not long after tha the singer tract was cut that we the end til this came along.

27:12 ron: the value of the arus can't be overstasted in terms of their abiltiyt 0 constantly reocrd wher ehumans can't be all the time. and record in a co mpletely unobtrusive way so observer doens't bias the behavior orf bird. you can put it on a tree and laeave it for 4 to 6 weeks ** presuamably allowingyou to get all ambient sound and not influencing the enviornment by traveling in and oaut, so the tech is really important. is it as goo d as a picture, it's great but boy ** would we like to have an 8 by 10 glosy 28:10 *** the reocridng are good, as peole say, the the double knock like campephilus form central and south america ... they all use this steroetypical double rap these reocridng soudn simliar, the kent calls match up well with the only other reocrdings that allen made in the 1930s. we can compare thos with our own human ear and they match up well, but they'll nver be a color photograph. 29:15 **

(talk about dennis tape from big thicket texas.) ron unsure, but acoustic analyses by russ sherrif he's pretty convinced it was ibw in east texas, but hard to make a defitnitive all.

georege lowry gvien photos by fielding lewsi in 71, took images to aou metign in 71 and was laughed out of aou meeting they were certian hoax. shed male ibw on two different trees, they werent great but they deserved more scrutingy. john dennis got hte same kind of reaction of immediately refuting anytng that had to do with ibs form 45 to 2004.

cj: are you getting that?

ron: we'll find out at aou. we're getting a little, we've had official challenges form prum et al. and we've invited some other porel to our lab and look at some of the evidnec ewe have, video and acoustic .. theyve walked away iwth betetr undertnaind of our evidence and how careful we are ...

32:25 sarah about volunteers, they are extremeley excited, they want to go search. we've heard mnay poele say they've serarced al ltheir lives, some thought it was there, others said no way, ti's created quite a stir, we have a lot of folks who are calling us emailing us, offering services sayign they can find anyting. we are organizing a volunteer effort. will go down for 2 weeks at a time, using our equipment etc. we are sayig to casual birders to use our data forms to show us what erffort is goign on. we are working wiht feds to coordinate the casual birder effort. to playce them in white river where we need more eyes.

36:00 saraha want to get hunters and fishermne invonvoled they know these bayous we want to brin gthem intto this.

ron: i thin we'll get some there have been segments 3:30 who have been a little bit upset, because places where bird has been seen you can't get acces swithout one of our research permits. thats' annoying to poele who've been hutning and fihsing all their lives. we don't want that. boviously the bird survied with hutning and fihsing and camping for many years, we want to learn how to make these places accessible to everyone while still conserving the habitat.

37:40 cj; any anti ESA propoerty rights etc.

ron: yes, there have been rumblings of property rights issues, poele concenrd if bird found on their porpoerty it will be magically confiscated by feds. usfws has assured poele they will not take their property. weas series of public meeting by us fws and ark. game and fish following annoucnemnt of rediscovery last may ...overhelmign the comments were relaly positive, but maybe 10 percent were briging up concerns about hutning and fihsing issues and private landowner rights. 39:10

we put a rozorback sticer on one of vans last year so we'd fit in betetr.

40:00 ** whatwould you be doignif not ibw

ron: cons. plans for sapsucker woods eliot: looking at disease in house finscehs. in ithaca sarah: i've been working on conservation in the east of golden wing warblers an cerulean warblers. this is the pinnacle. yo never imagein you'll get this oppty it's a dream. it's an amaing oppty fo rus, to go into thei sincredible swamp .. i'd never envision giogn down there to do field work it's a great opppty.

42:45 ron: it's fun at time. i was home with family reuionion by the end of the weekedn i ws really getingtired of telling ivoery billstires ...yo go over the details over and over, famly andfriends think it's just great, not just for us, but it's amainbg that this part. bird unlike 43:30 that aren't so charaistmatic is spectacular and it birngs out emtoion in poele hwo not even birder,s who look at a paitnign and are in awe, and they want to get behnd it and want ti to survive. ****

eliot: story in our hometiwn paper on me. alluded to what i did was lean against tree 12 hours a day and look for the bird, my frinds make fun of me, tha't sme joob to lean against a tree.

44:40 i wouldn't consider us rock stars, my firend shink i'm nuts, the had no clue whay i was goign to arkansa, and when i tolk them they coudl barelfy speak, you were doing WHAT WHERE? all friends an famaliiy been supportive ....i think it brings ou t hope for everyone that we've doine somethig right we've been able to protect this incredible species without even knowing it. bidders and non birders.

45:40 cjliP Moments oh my what if we're weong

ron: i'm concined 45:40 that we're not wrong, the acoustic revidnec ehas only bolstered it, the thin iworry about it...where is it now? is it safe? how do we find it again? how do rwe relocated this bord and more iportant, not just se it wing by a lake, but learn about it, put togehter a pattern to learn about beahvior that leads us to prpotect it right now we don't knowenought to conserve it.

******* s; I agree it's extremeley difficult to see it, my greatedst fear is we won't learn enoug to protect it i hope we have some luch and we will discovery a roost hole or a nesting cavity.

eliot:; i firmly bleive evidence ... i dont' say what if we'rewrong. but as field surpervisor, i have to maitnian crew morale, for folks aotu there 12 hours a day looking for this bird, and mostly not finding it. tyring ot maintin morelae and motiviation among the crew. 48:00

saraH: we were lucky last year with crew .. enthusiatics, spunky people ...to help keep motiviation going. it's diffiuclt, you're out there for really lIng hours and seeing very littk.e, hoping to get that fleeting Iglance. that picute.

eliot: will be 6 months this year.

49:00 cj: when start and how mamny peole ?

eliot: larger volunteere effort this year. will hire 15 poele and aloos have up to 14 volunteers comign in two week cohorts. cj: just announced these postions today. anybody whyo comes in we'll review them. ron: one big difference bertween this year and last we are now public , we can recurit volunreers in open way, hweras last year it was lcoak and dagger, ocvert, we were ocntacting ollecageus and telling white lies about why we cwanted grad ststudnets to come to arkansas ...now we dont' hae to do that **

50:30 it feels pretty liberating to talk openly and recuirt th ehlep we need. first sighitng this year .. eliot: several hundred dollar botle of wine least year.a

ron i'll kcik in a ibw cheeseburde.r

sarah: 51:00 *** i've heard ron will get an ibw haircut. as soon as we get agood image

ron:" i confirm if anybody sees it wi will get the hairdcut from penni3es in in brinkley (laughter)

****** 54:08 ROOM AMBI TO 57:00

INTERVIEWS IN THE BARN Kip's barn where the tree stump is ..

58:30 SFX: KEYS""door, walking itno barn, ambi shift from outside cars wind.

walking ambi at 59:00

tim: i 'll never forget coming in here about 3 years ago, i had a picture of ibw and you coudl see where the bird was hanging on it, and it was so spooky in a way .. ken: it's some amaizng to see th epix tanner and allen took, woodpecekr on it, and then say to people you want to see the stump .. a big red mapel. they cut it down that season, the next faioled, they wondered hwat calle th eyoung birds to die in nest and when they cut it down they found it full of parasites. tim: i can just wee these guys with corsscut saw hey hold that ladder... right ..

tim: and actualy they didn't know why next failed that year, jack coon who was working with them noticed when adults coming out of next seeme to be itchy, scratchig a lot, thougt maybe parasite .. they took the stump itno their motel room bot sawsdust out had it laying there had lihgth son it, al lthe sudden mites came out crawling p their arms. 1:01:35 this was 1935 in lao fright after that first field season.

ken: 1:01:25 **** all the famous pix of the woodpecekr pair in nest hole yo are looking at the actual tree and the actual hole they cirds were goign in and out of ..

tiM: they were goign in an out ben: you coudl see the head sticking out of the hole there.

1:01:55 tim: we actaully got measurement from this we measured the hole and the stup and everyting so we coul dget the actual size of a living ivoery bill .. ben: and that was a key compoinent of the video in arkansas bec we could take measurement of the tree in arkansas and with this tree we measure the images of th elivning ivoery bill and get a measurement of what an actual bird woul dlook like on a tree bec. when they are preserved they shrink down.

1:02:37 but we can make measruements because we have the original tree.

cj: five feet tall and four feet around

tim: it's copmletely invaluabe, it's priceless .. ben: also the measuremnt of the cavity is cr5iical because that's wht weIer looking for in arkansa. we've made diagrmas and poele are out looking for holes usign the actgual image of the hole here.

cj; little inglorious. tim: paIn to make a display here.

cj; 1:04:20 ** looks like holes here something's pekced away at it.

tim: you can see som eof these .. i've seen this in photo it was there in 35 ben: these wre working s ivoery bill did in 35 we can meausre those chipmakrs and compare thos ewith marking s on the tree. lot of woodpeckers in arka. we see a lot of workings on trees, quesiton is ibw or pileated. so by bieng able to meausre some real ibw working s.

cj: dna, feathers?

tim: no.

ben: but we've found cavities like this one in ark. could have been there 70 years but the fresh lookign ones, we have paIns to go up in to them and see what's inside, feathers woul dbe great to find. downy feathers. sthat we could analysze

ben: poele foudn a feather this year, our genetics lab analyzed and it was pileated. negative but good they could get dna.

they do have dna from preserved.or they think they can. bend doens't think they've done it yet.

red maple tree.

paul sykes iologists he had casts made form bill sof ibw specimens then had 1:09:18 so had simlutaed 3-inch bill of ibw. whe's been putting it in gorroves of trees in ark. there are plances there taht show typical peeled off tight bark with grooves and he puts it in there. he was hear doing comparisons. harvard has nest hole of ibw that's cypress. the only ohter one he know.s ben: the bil of ibw is flattened, like a chisel edge. so th eorking yous ee in trees are liek chisel marks, and the width of each hisel mark can be meaures, that's what sykes is oing, to see it matches ibw which i s larger thn pileated.

ben: let's *** see if we can find sometihg 1:10:30 (bending over) right here is horizontel mark that looks like might have been made with a chisel see that cj: yea i see

b: and here are marking sof beetle larva it leaves a mark on the tree ...the ibw fed on those. tim: in classic ibw foraging you see peeled off bark that's tight, lot of times cross hatching, life chevron .. ben: might be exmapel shere, you soee horizonttal groorves, he would look at width fo mark. 1:12:00

(talks about dennis reocrding) .. ben: most of us think that bird will prove to be ibw.

1:14:42 ID's *****

ken rosenberg: dir. of conservation scinece program at lab tim gallagher dir of publiscations editor of living bird.

1:15:00 ..plans for this yearls serach now public.

ken: one advanctabe *** is that we hope to attack tTHE best birders . and open it up to volunteers who want to spend 2 weeks in the field and lend expertis.e one tricky aspect now not secret, most of tland is natll woldlife refuge land .. and in response to pbulci announcement they have craeted managed access areas in refuge, which means public will not have acces, strict permit system, the people participating will have to be permitted. not nec. a problem but gotta work this all out with fws and then get al these great bird poeple out there.

for secret project had to rely on inho use expertise in cornell and tnc and poele we knw well and trust, some peole critiiced us fo r not having top peoel in field, now now we can invite david sibley and everyone else ..

cj: jerry jackson

us fws has put toghete rofficla end. species reovery team jackson is part of it. i am co chair of one of theee working gorups. therei s bio gorup re research to see if pop and how to reover. therls ahabitat woring troup what are conditions of forest we need tomamage how can we enhance habitat, with idea of restoring ibw population, forestry folks ... then "corrdior of hope II workign gorup sec. of interior used that term. working with local politicaisns and landownders to develop a conservation strategy that will work in that local invironment it wil lbe conomiiclaly feasible. llot of land already in protected ownershp. cj to other states, arkansas ...when land is put in feeral owndwership in ark. the state gets tax benefits.

1:20:25
*******
at our first meeting of the rcovery team we had in arkansa, we looked aroudn the orom and there were 90 or so poele involved in the rcovery of the ibw, nto a single peorson in the room had ever seen one so this iedea of revocering a ghost or myth you sort of have to overocme that, itls unique, all the info we have is from the past hirotialca ccount, the recent sighitngs don't aoffer a lot of biological information we can wrap our hands around for reovery plan. but so many poele are aeager to procedd as if the ibw exists, the have faith it does and faith they can restore the bird and habitat where bird is viable, i thik aloso remarkagel is how much habitata still exits.

****

ken: tim has seen one, i spent a lot of time in woods and i was basiclly trying to stay awake, nothign flew by me, so there's a certrain amoutn of fatih even those of us at cornell ...we do believe that there was a bird there in s2004 we are eager to get new information and find out if it is stil alive and if there are more of them we are operating as if it's true.

cj; cornell's reputation ken: yes an dno. sighitngs not just cornell. we are the lead gorup in res. eaffort, peole looking to us and acoustic tehc ther'es a lot of pressure the spotlight is on us.

tim: about seeing the bird, what do i do now, my career, i'm glad another peorpson. it was one of most difficutl thing i ever did telling fitz.

**

ken: i ask tim once a month if he still bleives it ...and melanie driscoll who had sighitng, th elongest sighitng wiht binoculars, i aske dhere agian today she said yes abovlstuey now doub.t we have to keep rmeind ourselves if this is real.
1:24:45

BARN ABMI IN CLEAR 1:26:12--1:28:00

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