Endangered Species: The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker

The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is scientifically known as Campephilus Principalis (its Spanish name is Carpintero Real). This spectacular bird is one of the most endangered species in genus Campephilus. It is classified as definitely, or probably extinct. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker has continued to receive reports of sightings and research on their existence. It is the largest woodpecker to ever inhabit the United States, and one of the largest in the world. The species became extinct because of the destruction of its original habitat. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker belongs to the Domain of Eukaryote and the Kingdom of Animalia. Its Phylum is Craniata in a Class of Aves. The Woodpecker’s order is Piciformes, and its family is Picidae. Its Genus is the Campephilus, and the species pertaining to this bird is the C Principalis.

 The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker shares similarities with the Cuban Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. The two birds look similar, but the Cuban is somewhat smaller and has some variation in its feathers. Oftentimes, people think that it competes for food and prime cavity sites. This competition has intensified after the forests have been cut. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker prefers large tracts of hardwood forests with close access to water, which extends through the southeastern United States, and as far north as southern Illinois. Their diets consist of some southern magnolia fruits and seeds, berries, cherries, pecan nuts, and insects such as large beetle larvae, which are their favorite and are found in dead or dying trees. They dig nests with oval shapes in dead trees, between fifteen and seventy feet above the ground, and build a new hole each year. The birds tend to fly over trees when they travel long distances. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker does not socialize or travel in groups, but they like to stay together during their breeding period. The Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers are monogamous. Both of the parents raise chicks. The male raises the babies during the night and also keeps the nest clean. It is believed they mated for life. The pairs of woodpeckers travel following each other, and if for some reason they are separated, they start to call one another until they reunite again. If they are not able to reunite quickly, the birds get nervous until they meet again.

 Their original habitat destruction limited them to bottomland swamp forests over the past years. The reduction of their population was noticeable during the late 1800's. These birds were frequently shot by hunters and collectors. The excess of their hunting also contributed to their disappearance. Most of what we know about the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker comes from old reports and illustrations. Ivory-Billed is considered the largest woodpecker in the United States.

 

This bird had a thirty-inch wingspan and was about five inches in length and weighed around twenty ounces. These woodpeckers are adorned with white markings on their neck and back, white-tipped feathers on the tips of their upper and under wings. They had yellow eyes, and the males had bright red crests, along with large ivory-colored bills. A large triangle of white is seen on their lower back when their wings are folded. After its existence was jeopardized in 1988, and vanished in 1994, in the year 2000 the IUCN listed the Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers as a Critically Endangered bird. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was last seen in April 2004 at the Cache River National Wildlife refuge in Monroe County, Arkansas by a kayaker. The appearance was confirmed when researchers videotaped the Ivory-Bill Woodpecker, and after obtaining more evidence for a year, they published it in April 2005. The federal government has pledged $10 million towards the protection of Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers. Private sector groups and individuals have pledged another $10 million. A recovery plan that will protect the birds' critical habitat is currently in the works. In the meantime, managers of the wildlife refuge have restricted access to 5,000 acres of forest in the area where Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers were spotted.

 The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is among 24 bird species in the Western Hemisphere considered to be "lost." These species receive Critically Endangered status from the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This designation acknowledges that the species may not be extinct, but that it has no known surviving wild or captive populations. ABC is working to find some of these species through its Search for Lost Birds initiative. Arthur A. Allen (contributor) Ivory-billed Woodpecker, 1935, Singer Tract, Louisiana, Photo by Arthur A. Allen.

Works Cited

  1. Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003.
  2. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA. Jackson, J. A. (2002).
  3. Ivory-billed Woodpecker ( ​Campephilus principalis ​), version 2.0.
  4. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. ​https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.711
  5. BirdLife International 2018. ​Campephilus principalis ​(amended version of 2016 assessment).
  6. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species ​ 2018: e.T22681425A125486020. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22681425A125486020.en ​. Downloaded on 09 March 2020.
  7. Illustration by Michael DiGiorgio - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83258025 Poor, A. 2005. "Campephilus principalis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 09, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Campephilus_principalis/