The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is the topic of heated debate between serious ornithologists. The bird was presumed to be extinct, with the last good photo and audio recordings from 1935. However, recent birding trips in the American southeast have yielded controversial claims of having seen Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in that region. Supporters of the theory that the population is making a come back consider these sightings as evidence that the woodpeckers are not extinct after all. However, many skeptics believe that the recent reports are false positives. For example, they claim that one famous photo of a potential Ivory-billed woodpecker could be a mistaken image of a Pileated Woodpecker. In addition, they say recent audio recordings of distinctive double-rappings are too distant to be conclusive, and could have been made by a multitude of forest creatures.
Hear the bird call
- Nest locations
- 25 feet (15 to 70 feet)
- Next Type
- Foraging Techniques
- Ground gleaning
- Mature deciduous forest swamps, mature riverine bottomlands, occasionally in pines. 1 brood. Mating system is monogamous.
- Atop dead tree, pair preen and call until female climbs below male, who leans downward to clasp bill, followed by ritual feeding.
- Excavated in 8 to 14 days.
- 2-3 white. 1.5" (38 mm).
- Chick Development
- Both sexes incubate. Incubation takes 20 days. Development is altricial (immobile, downless, eyes closed, fed). Young leave the nest after 35 days. Both sexes tend young.
- Mostly wood-boring insects; also seeds, nuts, berries.
- Winter resident. Endangered Species; presumably extinct in U.S. but claims exist of rediscovery in Arkansas in 2004-05. Confirmed sighting in mountains of Cuba in 1986. U.S. loss due to logging of bottomland and virgin cypress forests.
- Sedentary, remaining within several miles of natal cavity. Large, powerful, chisel-like bill; only woodpecker able to pry off unloosened bark. Male incubates at night. Young remain with adults for up to 8 months. Known to make 4 inch gashes in cambium when hunting insects but more bark-scaling in feeding than seen in Pileated Woodpecker.
from Thayer's Guide to Birds of North America CD-ROM