ivory-billed woodpecker

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ivory-billed woodpecker

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 woodpecker, 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 Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Piciformes, family Picidae.


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

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References in periodicals archive ?
The ivory-billed woodpecker was decimated when the mature bottomland forests it depends on were razed in the 19th and early 20th centuries, but these forests are now coming back.
The ivory-billed woodpecker is the largest woodpecker species north of Mexico and the third largest in the world.
Jackson turned on a portable tape recorder, and through the amplified speaker rose the calls of an ivory-billed woodpecker recorded years before, when the whitish- billed, red-crested, crow-sized bird still lived deep in the wetlands and neighboring pine uplands.
editor: I read the article on the ivory-billed woodpecker in the latest issue with great interest and enjoyment.
The rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campepbilus principalis) in Arkansas, announced April 28, 2005, is one of the most memorable events in the history of the National Wildlife Refuge System and North American ornithology.
Both of these features distinguish the ivory-billed woodpecker from the superficially similar, and much more common, pileated woodpecker.
In our ornithology laboratory, I can admire the mounted skin of a Labrador duck or heath hen, Carolina parakeet or ivory-billed woodpecker, or any of ten passenger pigeons.
Extinct or not Birders debated whether the ivory-billed woodpecker survives in Arkansas and agreed only on the need for better evidence (169: 189).
REMEMBER THE IVORY-BILLED woodpecker? It put Arkansas on the ornithological map last year, but by the time the state put out a license plate with its likeness, the excitement created with the sighting of the long-thought-to-be-extinct bird had ebbed.
It may be true that the ivory-billed woodpecker has survived in the swamps of Louisiana, Arkansas, or the mountains of Cuba, but the evidence, so far, doesn't support this hope.
The disappearance of forests often also means the disappearance of many spectacular birds, such as the pale-billed woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis), similar to the ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) of North America, and the keel-billed toucan (Ramphastos sulfuratus), one of the most colorful and recognizable species in the New World tropics.