New Debate Over Luneau Footage

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 16th, 2007

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

You knew it was going to happen. The debate about the ivory-billed woodpecker’s re-discovery has boiled over to the frame by frame analyses, con and pro, of the 2004 Arkansas video on a level comparable to that we’ve seen with the Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot footage.

In the journal BMC Biology on March 13, 2007, the latest is a discussion of the frame by frame analysis of what has become known as the Luneau video by a Scottish scientist Martin Collinson. Collinson just is not buying the fact that the ivory-billed woodpecker has been found. He thinks the video is of another similar, but smaller woodpecker. Meanwhile, others are calling Collinson’s study faulted because the ivory-billed woodpecker’s wing-beats are faster.

The last confirmed sighting of the ivory-billed woodpecker in North America was in 1944. Researchers believed the species was extinct until 2004, when a kayaker is said to have spotted one in eastern Arkansas. Since then, there have been several sightings, and a videotape shot by David Luneau, an electronics professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, was released.AP/Science, March 15, 2007

Now the fallout begins. It is the Great Luneau Video Debate.

The bird in the Arkansas video is best regarded as not fully identified, and is probably a pileated woodpecker. – Martin Collinson, geneticist, University of Aberdeen, Scotland

The Luneau video is inconsistent in every respect with pileated woodpecker. We have yet to see even a single video of pileated woodpecker that matches the (Arkansas) video. Show us one and I’ll change my mind. Nobody can do it.John Fitzpatrick, director, Cornell University’s Laboratory of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

17 Responses to “New Debate Over Luneau Footage”

  1. heinselman responds:

    The journal, with analysis, has this entry available for review. It is worth a read over, and it is free.

    The 32-page paper is located here and is entitled:

    Video analysis of the escape flight of Pileated Woodpecker Dryocopus pileatus: Does the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Campephilus principalis persist in continental North America?

    The author is J Martin Collinson

    BMC Biology 2007, 5:8

  2. Raptorial responds:

    Oh boy, here we go. Just when it seems that most scientists are accepting the ivory-bills reappearance, bam!

  3. richard_from_idaho responds:

    I am crazy about birds and would love to see this particular woodpecker out and about.

  4. Bob Michaels responds:

    It’s the Ivory bill, an example of Ivory bill envy.

  5. Ceroill responds:

    I’ve long been a big fan of the Ivory Bill. Since I was a kid I have suspected it wasn’t really gone. I guess this is a case of scientific inertia. Once something has been declared extinct, it seems to be really hard to admit the conclusion was mistaken.

  6. schreiberosa responds:

    I wonder when the guy in the woodpecker suit will step forward to say it was all staged? At least it can be said that Ray Wallace didn’t have his hand (foot?) on this case!

  7. kittenz responds:

    I WANT to believe. Let’s hope that some really conclusive film or photos turn up soon.

  8. Scarfe responds:

    The Ivory Bill video is obviously a hoax. Anyone can see that its just a man in a suit. 😉

  9. busterggi responds:

    I confess!

    I wore the woodpecker costume in the film and for the photos.

  10. Atticus responds:

    This is sad. I’m hoping there are some still out there. But the way this is going, eventually we will have something like the Monty Python Parrot sketch.

  11. kittenz responds:

    No, it is a fourth-dimensional entity that flits back and forth at will just to tantalize us.

  12. Atticus responds:

    This is starting to resemble the Parrot sketch from Monty Python.

  13. mystery_man responds:

    I find it incredibly amusing that a kayaker seeing it was enough to put this species back on the map. I do not know the whole sequence of events in any great detail, but I find it to be remarkable how little was required for this species to be declared as not extinct yet. Somehow I don’t think a kayaker seeing, say, a thylacine, would have the same impact.

  14. graybear responds:

    I can’t wait until they start arguing about whether the 8.6 wingbeats per second (or whatever) are precise enough and will they have to slice and dice the video even further, arguing over whether its actually 8.65 or 8.59 wbps. Hasn’t anyone ever heard of individual variation within species? If some future scientist came upon their remains, would Shaq O’Neal and (midget actor) Billy Barty be placed into different species?

    Although I am definitely non-kill on the sasquatch issue, this is a pretty good run-up for any sas evidence which doesn’t have a body (alive or dead) attached. Photos and videos are just not enough for people who won’t let go their own preconceptions.

  15. dogu4 responds:

    Well, if it turns out to be a false alarm, there is a silver lining. It’s heightened our attention to the issues of conservation and demonstrated that it’s one in which the public has great interest. It’s shown small communities that may have never given much thought to eco-tourism, that birders, natualists, photographers, and all sorts of regular folk with a passion for wild places bring good opportunities to their towns, and not just shut down economic developement. Even people who might never have given the environment much thought might now be finding themselves taking extra interest in the backyard birdfeeder.
    And, it is an important lesson on how the scientific community (ornithologists, ecologists, biophysicists and even acoustic electronic engineers) use scientific techniques and logic to support their points, sometimes vehemently, and sometimes unkind things are said, but ultimately the reality is supported and we’re all a bit better off.

  16. Muskie Murawski responds:

    I dont get it thats a pretty good image, why the uncertainty?

  17. redneck rick responds:

    all i know is that after that video there was people all over that swamp looking for that bird, sure did mess up my deer hunt that year.

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