Sunday, June 26, 2005

intensified sky

Ah, not to be cut off
not through the slightest partion
shut out from the law of the stars
The inner -- what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

~Rainer Maria Rilke
Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose of Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Stephen Mitchell

Saturday, June 25, 2005

the lord god bird

Chris wrote quite a while ago (I have a lot to catch up on) about the re-discovery of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (who's been dubbed "Elvis") in Arkansas under the title "Never give up on anyone".

Because of his post, I noticed and read the little article in our local Audubon Society newsletter that pertained, called "If It Doesn't Want to Be Found, How Do We find It? And How Many More are Out There?". Dr. James Van Remsen, curator of ornithology at the LSU Museum of Natural Science, writes the following about trying to verify a sighting in the Pearl River swamp in Lousiana in 1999 (the last verified U.S. sighting, before the one this past April, was in the 1940's!):
"We conducted that search with the cocky attitude that, regardless of how wary, Ivory-billed Woodpeckers would make enough noise (calls, double-raps, or bark-scaling) that our black-belt field commandos would find them just by getting within earshot. That attitude comes from plenty of experience with other rare and hard-to-find birds. Hard to see, yes, but nonetheless always revealing themselves by sounds to those who tune in. However, if Arkansas Elvis is any indication, we could have missed dozens of birds in the Pearl. Elvis is not only incredibly wary, seldom allowing more than a glimpse before flying off not to be relocated, but astoundingly quiet. If our birds behave like this, finding them wil require the stealth skills of a turkey hunter...It is tempting and perhaps reasonable to speculate that the last Ivory-billeds, under intense hunting pressure from humans, survived only because of the behavioral changes required to regard humans as deadly. If ducks and turkeys can develop such behaviors seasonally, longer-lived and probably smarter big woodpeckers could get this way fast."