David Sibley, famous bird expert, author, and artist, and now the most famous ivory-billed skeptic, has a story describing how he came to his conclusion that the bird in the 2004 Luneau video is not the long-missing Ivory-billed Woodpecker, but rather a common Pileated Woodpecker. In it he writes about his reaction to the initial announcement of the ivory-billed's rediscovery last year,
I studied the paper and watched the video as soon as it was posted. Mostly I studied maps, dates, and locations of sightings. I accepted the reported proof without question.He then describes his trip to the woods of Arkansas himself, where he saw many Pileated Woodpeckers but no Ivory-billeds. When he returned home, he watched the Luneau video again. His new reaction:
Instead of seeing an ivory-bill, there was a bird that looked like a pileated - small, grainy, and blurry, but just like all the pileated woodpeckers I had seen in Arkansas. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I looked again and again, trying to refute my own conclusion, and I wept as the realisation set in - that this was not an ivory-billed woodpecker, and that this was a mistake that could have profound repercussions in the birding and conservation communities.I don't know if he is correct or not, but this story may help to explain why his analysis of the video, published yesterday in Science magazine, is not nearly as thorough as the original one by the Cornell team led by John Fitzpatrick.