- ORDER: Piciformes
- FAMILY: Picidae
The largest of the woodpeckers north of Mexico and the third largest in the world, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker was a bird of old-growth forests in the southeastern U.S. and Cuba. Destruction of its forest habitat caused severe population declines in the 1800s, and only very small numbers survived into the twentieth century. It was thought to have gone extinct in the middle of the twentieth century. The bird was rediscovered in the "Big Woods" region of eastern Arkansas in 2004, but has not been relocated since. Read more about searches for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.More ID Info
- Picamaderos Picomarfil (Spanish)
- Pic à bec ivoire (French)
- Cool Facts
- From 2006–2010, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology was involved in attempts to relocate Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in the southeastern U.S., after a number of sightings in Arkansas beginning in 2004. Read more about searches for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.
- Ivory-billed Woodpeckers are often thought of as swamp dwellers, but the biologist Jim Tanner had a different view: “[It] has been associated with muck and murk, has been called a melancholy bird, but it is not that at all—the Ivory-bill is a dweller of the tree tops and sunshine; it lives in the sun, not the shade.”
- Native Americans used Ivory-billed Woodpecker bills for decorations. A thriving bill trade existed across much of North America, so much so that archeologists uncovered Ivory-billed Woodpecker skulls far outside of the known range of the woodpecker.
- Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in Cuba had a slightly smaller bill and white neck stripes that extended farther onto the face than those in the United States, leading some to consider it a separate species. Cuban birds suffered the same fate as the mainland form, disappearing as the mature forests were destroyed. The last confirmed sighting in Cuba was in 1986.
- Sadly, the Ivory-bill isn't the only large North American woodpecker to have succumbed to habitat loss. Mexico’s Imperial Woodpecker, the largest in the world, has not been seen since the 1950s. In 2010 a search for Imperial Woodpeckers in the pine forests of the Sierra Madre did not produce any sightings. The bird is now known only from museum specimens and some short segments of restored film footage from the 1950s.