If these birds avoided cameras for 50 years, so could the UFOs.

Evidence recently came to light that made it possible (though perhaps still not quite likely) that the ivory-billed woodpecker is not extinct, as long thought, but might still be surviving deep in the swamps of Louisiana. The evidence is a few grainy pictures supported by the observations of a couple of bird people who hopefully know what an ivory-billed looks like.

These birds have not been confirmed alive since 1944. If a surviving population exists, it would be a near-miracle of evasion of perennial human surveillance. How much of a miracle? Well, do you know any birders — — that is, people who collect photos of birds? Most of them are not, let’s say, “casual” about their hobby. They are the type that travels long distances to catch a fleeting blurry photo of some brown feathered puffball and then get online to argue vehemently about whether some splotch of color makes it the northern variety or the southern variety. They own expensive equipment and think nothing of staking out a mosquito-infested marsh before the crack of dawn. Theirs is a kind of lonely world where the only people who care about their hobby are other people who care about their hobby. I’ll just come out and say it: they’re nerds. (Sorry birders, but search your feelings, you know it to be true.)

And of all the birds in the world, there’s probably none that these nerdy zealots want a picture of more than the ivory-billed woodpecker. When a grainy video of a possible ivory-billed living in a swamp in Arkansas was released in 2004, nearby towns were quickly overrun with bird-nerds like some kind of avian Sturgis. Every one of these guys has been slavering to get an ivory-billed on their ‘life list’ for more than 50 years, in the best-case scenario with a photo to prove it. Yet documentation of the existence of the birds has been extremely thin.

Now, let’s pause for a second and consider: what other subculture is driven by a zealous nerdy energy that gets stirred up every time a fuzzy picture of their favorite subject gets released? …Oh yeah!

At this point I’m going to leave aside the cultural-criticism mysteries of why one gang of nerds obsessed with pictures of flying things gets fawning columns in their local paper written about their adorable hobby (that nobody reads), while another gets dismissed as crackpots or have dark television specials made about them with scary music (which tons of people watch… nothing really ever makes much sense, does it?)

The point I want to get to (that I should have put in the first paragraph) is this: if the ivory-billed woodpeckers are confirmed alive after all this time, it really shoots a hole in the oft-heard conjecture that if there were UFOs we would certainly have high-quality pictures of them since we live in this time where everyone carries a camera always and everywhere, doesn’t it? I mean, the ivory-bills were sought for decades by people obsessed with photo documentation, and the best they’ve been able to get in the last 50 years is a couple of grainy photographs and one seriously unconvincing short video. If the ivory-bills managed to evade all those people for all that time, well, it sure does put a lot of the less fantastical camera-shy cryptids back on the table, don’t you think?

And if the birds were able to avoid the cameras for 50 years, the UFOs could too.

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