Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers by Audubon
Phylum : Chordata
Class : Aves
Order : Piciformes
Family : Picidae
Genus : Campephilus
Species : principalis

Length : 18-20in
Wingspan : 31in

IUCN Status : Critically Endangered, but quite possibly Extinct

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is/was one of the largest of all the Woodpeckers. Now, I say "is/was" because the current status of this bird is unknown. It was previously thought to be extinct, but then in 2005 a few birds were sighted in Arkansas. However, despite years of effort, and searches over thousands of square miles, no other birds have been located.

Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers were found in the South-East United States, living in old growth forests. During the 19th century these habitats were destroyed, causing the birds to lose their homes. By the mid 20th century, they were believed to be extinct in the United States. Report in Cuba continued until the 1980s, but that population is now also believed to be gone.

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker circa 1935
Before they were lost, a decent amount of information was obtained about the behavior of the species. For example, pairs mate for life and share the responsibilities of raising their young.They feed off of beetle larvae, and excavate nests high up in trees. Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers also have distinctive calls and raps, which ornithologists have been listening for in their search for these rare birds.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology continued to put together searches for the Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers, but no birds have turned up since the initial 2005 push. They suspended their searching in 2010. Other projects began in Florida, but they too came up relatively empty. Maybe they are still out there, maybe they aren't. It's another sad story of a species lost.

1 comment:

  1. A friend has been studying these for quite a few years and still feels they may still be around.I like the entire familiy and watch for them a lot.


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