Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I COULD let it lie; but I WON'T let it lie #2

An imaginary reader writes...
Dear Martin. We haven't had any woodpecker stuff for ages. How about celebrating the anniversary of your paper by wrapping it up for figure 1 in Fitzpatrick et al., 2005?

Dear Imaginary Reader. What? I can't even remember what Figure 1 was. Recently I have been tuning into Cyberthrush quite a lot, especially now Tom Nelson's blog has so badly tanked. I like Cyberthrush because he retains the right balance of perspective and humour. Just today he posted some amusing and instructive videos of Pileated Woodpeckers dancing round trees, namely this one * and this one.

*Update - I should warn you that there is a fantastically sweary background soundtrack to the first video - what IS going on in that house??? "Shakespeare, go to your place"??

It occurred to me that it might be possible to use these to see what Pileated Woodpeckers look like when they are half-hidden behind a tree trunk. I remember NOW that Figure 1 in Fitzpatrick et al. showed a streak of black and white poking out to the left of a tree trunk and interpreted that as the big white wing patch of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Sibley et al 2006 in contrast reinterpreted it as the underwing of a Pileated Woodpecker that was opening its wings for flight. So can Pileated Woodpeckers look like that? Well now, imaginary reader, you can decide. Have a look at this thingy here. The top left panel is Figure 1 from Fitzpatrick et al, showing the frame in question from David Luneau's video and their interpretation of it (diagramatically). Then on the right hand side are some stills from those youtube videos, and in the middle some mild enlargement of those stills. I find the top three very informative and pretty much confirm that Pileated Woodpeckers can produce that frame from the Luneau video. 4th one down I took a clear underwing and tried to crop it and rotate it to produce the Luneau frame, as if the bird were heading off right behind a tree trunk. The bottom two are trying to determine whether a partially open PIWO underwing could produce the Luneau frame, and I'm not quite sure. However I think, dear imaginary reader, that the sum of the evidence just about wraps it up for Figure 1 in Fitzpatrick et al. I'm not sure if anyone cares (apart from Bill, who will cry 'fatal flaws', possibly :-) ) Happy now?

It is such a shame that Tom won't care about this any more. He would have liked it.

  1. Fitzpatrick JW, Lammertink M, Luneau MD Jr, Gallagher TW, Harrison BR, Sparling GM, Rosenberg KV, Rohrbaugh RW, Swarthout ECH, Wrege PH, Swarthout SB, Dantzker MS, Charif RA, Barksdale TR, Remsen JV Jr, Simon SD, Zollner D: Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) persists in continental North America. Science 2005, 308:1460-1462 .
  2. Sibley DA, Bevier LR, Patten MA, Elphick CS: Comment onIvory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) persists in continental North America” Science Online 2006, 311:1555a (dol. 10.1126/science1122778).

1 comment:

Bill Pulliam said...

Quit trying to bait me, Martin. I had the decency to stop harassing you and the rest of your lot six months ago; please return the favor?