Nature Wildlife Photography Travel

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker

The ivory-billed woodpecker is or was one of the largest woodpeckers in the world, at roughly 20 inches in length and 30 inches in wingspan. It was native to the virgin forests of the South-eastern United States. Due to habitat destructions, and to a lesser extent hunting, its number has dwindled to the point where it is uncertain whether any remains. The species is listed as critically endangered and are probably extinct.

The bird is shiny blue-black with white marking on its neck and back and extensive white on the trailing edge, of both the upper and under wing. The under wing is also white along its forward edge, resulting in a black line running along the middle of the under wing, expanding to more extensive black at the wingtip.

Ivory billed are known to prefer thick hardwood swamps and pine forests, with large amounts of dead and decaying trees. Primeval hardwood forests are the habitats for the bird. It’s ranged from east Texas to North Carolina, from southern Illinois to Florida and Cuba. They feed mainly on the larvae of wood-boring beetles, but also eat seed, fruits, and other insects. The bird uses its enormous white bill to hammer, wedge and peel the bark of dead trees to find the insects.

They are thought to pair for life. The pairs are also known to travel together. These paired birds mate every year between January and May. Before having the young, they excavate a nest in a dead or partially dead tree. Two to five eggs are laid and incubated for three to five weeks. Both parents are involved in taking care of the chicks, with the male taking sole responsibility at night. They feed the chicks for months even after they learn to fly, which is after five weeks. They will feed the young for two months. The family will eventually split up in late fall or early winter.

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7 responses

  1. Anna Andrade

    Such a beautiful bird… what a tragedy.

    June 9, 2011 at 5:00 am

  2. eet

    i saw one when i was a kid in miami. i even had a picture of it (i was obsessed with birds and photography lol) it must have been 2002ish. it was a bad quality camera but it was the biggest woodpecker i had ever seen.

    October 15, 2011 at 10:13 am

  3. Audrey

    I would love to see such a bird. I got the biggest thrill this year and last when I see my Pileated Woodpeckers how wonderful God is and all his creations.

    October 28, 2011 at 11:24 am

  4. sadie ann

    I just saw two, a mated pair, not 20 minutes ago on a walk around my block in Atlanta. Not quite 2 feet tall, right? Has really dramatic coloring, a peaked red head and a call like a laugh? If that’s it, then that’s the kind I saw.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:55 am

  5. Thanks to all of your comments. :)

    March 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

  6. Ken

    Just spotted 1 in conroe texas.

    April 7, 2012 at 1:48 am

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