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Ivory-billed Woodpecker

North America

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Campephilus principalis

Endangered

  • Habitat loss
  • Over hunting

With a height of up to 50 centimeters or 20 inches and a wingspan of 75 centimeters or 30 inches, the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is considered as the largest woodpecker species in North America and one of the biggest of its kind in the world. It can be exclusively found in the southern part of the US as well as Cuba.

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, which is known for its distinct double-knock sound, belongs to the class 6 species category which means its extinction status is probable or definite. But after its last confirmed sighting in the late 1980s, a 2005 video within the Arkansas swamp forest proved that there may be wild woodpeckers living out there. The most recent report we could find estimated that only 22 to 24 of the birds remained in the wild in the USA.

Before the Civil War, multitudes of Ivory-Billed Woodpecker roam freely in the virgin forests of the southern states of the US. Not only do the hardwood trees serve as nesting grounds for this trunk-grasping bird; the surrounding area has numerous dead and dying trees where the ivory-bill’s favorite food can be found – the beetle larvae.

Land clearing efforts gave way to logging efforts which destroyed most of the habitat ecosystem of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. The lumber industry continued to flourish until there was no more timber to cut in the mid-20th century. The almost bald forests mean that there are no more trees for the woodpecker to make home with and no more food to sustain its existence. Those that survived became vulnerable to hunters who sell them to bird collectors.