The Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis principalis)
On April 28 2005, a team of scientists announced they had seen a male Ivory-billed woodpecker!
A large bird, mostly black plumage with white wing patches and a white stripe running down both sides of the neck. Brilliant red crest. As the name implies, an ivory bill that was used by native Americans in ceremonies and decoration. Link to a larger image.
Originally found in much of the Southeast United States.
The Ivory-billed woodpecker requires mature deciduous forest swamps and river bottomlands.
Birds pry off bark searching for main food, wood-boring insects. With its very powerful bill, the Ivory-billed is the only woodpecker that can scale off unloosened bark. Also eats seeds, nuts and berries.
Courtship includes ritual feeding. Monogamous. Excavates nest cavity in 8 to 14 days. Nest typically 25 feet (range 15' - 70') from ground. Lays two or three (range 1-5 eggs) 1.5" white eggs. Male incubates at night. Eggs hatch in 20 days. The altricial young fledge in 35 days and may remain with parents for 8 months. One brood per year.
A single breeding pair requires three square miles of undisturbed forest.
While the Ivory-billed's habitat was unfriendly to the European settlers, logging of the forests lead to a severe drop in the populations at the end of the 19th century. By 1968 only six birds were found in the U.S. In 1986 sightings were made of at least one male and female in the mountains of Eastern Cuba. No further U.S sightings were been made until the spring of 2000, when a pair of birds were sighted in the Pearl River management area of Louisiana.
During January of 2002, a team of searchers spent 30 days looking and listening for IBWO in SE Louisiana. No birds were sighted but trees scaled of bark were found.
- Day, David. The Doomsday Book of Animals. 1981. Viking Press. New York. ISBN 0-670-27987-0
- Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye. The Birder's Handbook. 1988. Simon & Schuster. New York. ISBN 0-671-65989-8
- World Wildlife Fund Guide to Extinct Species of Modern Times. Walter Beacham, Editor. Vol. 1. 1996. ISBN 0-933833-40-7.