I got an email today announcing NOVA scienceNOW with Robert Krulwich, which premieres Tuesday, January 10, 2006, at 8 PM ET on PBS. The fifth installment of this energetic science magazine series features the top science stories of 2005 including the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. I like how at the bottom they are considering having Jackson and Fitzpatrick at the same time...I'd like to hear a live debate. I wonder if it would stay civil? Part of me wants to hear both sides well laid out and thoughtfully proposed, but the 13 year old inside me would really like to see it degenerate into an all out name calling fight that might even end in something like "You could bird yourself out of a wet paper bag!" or "You wouldn't know a Campephilus double knock even if one used your gigantic nose as a resonator!" I don't think it would add anything to science, I just think it might take the edge off of those birders are geek rumors.
However, the series is on PBS so I doubt my dream will come true. Here's the announcement:
EXTINCTION-- IVORY BILLED WOODPECKER
Correspondent Carla Wohl reports on a cautiously hopeful story from the world of nature that is causing a controversy: the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, a creature long thought to be extinct, may have returned from the brink. The last confirmed sighting of the bird occurred in 1944, until recent claims of encounters in an Arkansas cypress swamp began emerging last year. Right now, the only hard visual evidence is a scrap of blurry video taken by David Luneau, a professor at the University of Arkansas, but the experts disagree on it.
John Fitzpatrick, the head of CornellÂs respected ornithology department is unequivocal that it is an Ivory Bill. Jerome Jackson, an ornithologist at Florida Gulf Coast University, is not convinced. Meanwhile, several audio recordings have also been made and examined. Plus, Luneau has placed motion-detecting cameras in promising places in the woods, since nothing less than an 8x10 glossy of this elusive bird will convince the most cynical skeptics of its comeback.
I also was hoping you'll be able to link to this cool package online, in time for the accompanying on-air NOVA premiere on January 10.
Ivory Billed Woodpecker
Ask the Expert-Ornithologist John Fitzpatrick of Cornell University answers viewer questions on the Ivory Billed woodpecker. [Note: Also considering having Dr. Jackson share ATE with Fitzpatrick. He is a skeptic.]