86 the Choppers

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

In the April 2008 As the Woodpecker Flies update from Cornell University, researchers involved with the search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBW) report that aerial surveys proved to be an unproductive approach to documenting large woodpeckers. 

As stated in the article, "Aerial surveys depend on the woodpeckers being flushed by the approaching helicopter so the birds can be spotted as they fly away. But few of the woodpeckers along the flight path of the helicopter actually flush, making this an ineffective way to search." Researchers estimated that the survey team missed 90% or more of Pileated Woodpeckers.

Project scientist Martjan Lammertink said that ground teams of six searchers were just as efficient as the helicopter crew at finding Pileated Woodpeckers. However, an advantage of ground teams is that they "can do other things - conduct playbacks, look for cavities and feeding sign, and count other bird species of interest."

The TBRC often receives recommendations to use a variety of unconventional approaches to document the sasquatch. Perhaps this experience from the IBW research effort provides a lesson in the value of traditional techniques.

Source: As the Woodpecker Flies, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 

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