ivory-billed woodpecker

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Related to Ivory-bill: Campephilus principalis

ivory-billed woodpecker,

common name for the largest of the North American woodpeckers, Campephilus principalis. Once plentiful in Southern hardwood forests, it was believed to be extinct or nearing extinction after 1952. The last known members of this species had been reported from the deepest forests of NW Florida and central Louisiana, and there were no confirmed sightings after 1944 until 2004, when one may have been spotted in an E Arkansas swamp. The Arkansas evidence, however, has been criticized by a number of ornithologists as ambiguous.

A shiny blue-black in color with extensive white markings on its wings and neck, this bird is distinguished by its pure white bill and by a prominent top crest, red in the male and black in the female. A true woodpeckerwoodpecker,
common name for members of the Picidae, a large family of climbing birds found in most parts of the world. Woodpeckers typically have sharp, chisellike bills for pecking holes in tree trunks, and long, barbed, extensible tongues with which they impale their insect
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, it has a strong and straight chisellike bill and a long, mobile, hard-tipped, sticky tongue. It measures from 18 to 20 in. (46–51 cm) in length, with short legs and feet ending in large, curved claws. The ivory-bill deposits from three to five glossy white eggs per clutch in an unlined hole, preferably drilled in a cypress tree. Of its reproductive habits little more than this is known.

The decrease in the number of ivory-bills may be largely blamed on the cutting and eventual disappearance of the trees in which they lived. It is not known how many ivory-bills may survive today in the forests of the S United States and in Cuba. Ivory-billed woodpeckers are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Piciformes, family Picidae.


See T. Gallagher, The Grail Bird (2005).

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But Steinberg concludes that the sightings are consistent enough to suggest that ivory-bills still exist.
FOR ALL THOSE following in James Tanner's footsteps, there is a powerful desire, in the face of our general gloom about climate change and global warming (and humanity's role in causing them), to find the ivory-bill.
But every so often this obsession would flare up again, and I would start dreaming about swamps and imagining what it would be like to find an ivory-bill.
In his notes to this chapter he says of the Singer Tract that "the largest and best tract of virgin timber is here, where Ivory-bills have resided for many years .
At the risk of reducing a magnificent creature to a cardboard prop, I suggest that the quest to save the ivory-bill represents a desire with which many evangelical Christians may connect.
SOMETIMES I WONDER whether we who loved the ivory-bill so much simply hoped it back into being, and when the spell wears off, it'll be gone again.
Yet perhaps that idea that we somehow desired the ivory-bill back into existence--isn't such a strange one after all.
Both mean extinction--not only of them, the ivory-bills and passenger pigeons and Carolina parakeets, but of us, humans.
When we finished our notes," Gallagher said, "Bobby sat down on a log, put his face in his hands and began to sob, saying, 'I saw an ivory-bill.
On April 5, 10 and 11, three different searchers sighted an ivory-bill in nearby areas.
In all, during more than 7,000 hours of search time, experienced observers reported at least 15 sightings of the ivory-bill, seven of which were described in the Science article.
Fitzpatrick said the team will also encourage others to search for the ivory-bill elsewhere in suitable habitats throughout the South.