Ivory Billed Woodpecker

Large Bird of the Woodpecker family (Picidae) in the southern United States and Cuba, presumed extinct.

Scientific names: Campephilus principalis principalis (in United States), given by Carl von Linné in 1758; C. p. bairdii (in Cuba), given by John Cassin in 1863.

PP'hysical description: Length, 20 inches. Tall, scarl et crest (mal es); bl ack crest (femal es). White bill. White stripes on either side of the neck. Large patches of white on the wings.

Behavior: Feeds on wood-boring beetle larvae that infest recently dead trees. Level flight. Habitat: Tall bottomland, swamp forest. Distribution: Historical range was from eastern Texas to North Carolina and north in the Mississippi Valley to Missouri, southern Illinois, and southern Indiana. Scattered sightings since 1966 have been claimed in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Cuba. Significant sightings:

In the United States—John V. Dennis observed Ivory-bills in the Neches River valley, Texas, on December 10, 1966, and February 19, 1967.

Wildlife artist Frank Shields saw individual

252 isturitz scimitar cat

The Ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), presumed extinct in the United States since the 1960s. (© 2002 ArtToday.com, Inc., an IMSI Company)

Ivory-bills near Interlachen, Florida, on April 4 and 15, 1969; on June 11, he found a distinctive, black-and-white feather that he identified as bel onging to an Ivory-bil l.

In May 1971, a pair of Ivory-bills was allegedly seen and one of them photographed by an amateur birder in the Atchafal aya River area, Louisiana. However, some have said the photo shows a mounted museum specimen.

In 1987, Jerome Jackson heard a bird respond to his Ivory-bil l recordings north of Vicksburg, Mississippi, but he did not see it.

On April 1, 1999, zoology student David Kul ivan saw a pair of Ivory-bil l s at cl ose range in the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area, Louisiana. Members of an expedition to the area in the winter of 2002 heard and recorded the bird's distinctive rapping but made no sightings; however, Cornel l University ornithol ogists confirmed in June 2002 that the sounds were made by distant gunshots.

In Cuba—In 1948, John V. Dennis and Davis Crompton discovered a population in the Cuchillas del Toa Range, and in 1956, George Lamb found six groups there. Since the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the status of the species is uncertain.

In 1985, Lester L. Short found indirect evidence of the Ivory-bill in the Cupeyal Reserve, and on April 16, 1986, he saw a mal e Ivory-bil l in flight at a distance of only 18 feet.

Giraldo Alayon and Alberto Estrada found traces in Ojito de Agua in 1986. On the afternoon of March 16, 1987, the last positive record of the species was recorded in the Cuchillas del Toa Mountains by Alayon and Aimé Pasada when they saw a femal e woodpecker flying at a distance of about 600 yards.

Members of a 1988 National Geographic expedition, which included Ted Parker and Jerome Jackson, could not find the species, although one individual might have been glimpsed. Unsuccessful searches were conducted in 1991, 1992, and 1993, but in 1998 and 1999, new evidence indicating the bird's presence was discovered in the Sierra Maestra.

Present status: A major decline, associated with the cutting of l owl and hardwood forests, began in the United States around 1885 and continued until the 1920s. Considered extinct in the United States by the 1960s and in Cuba by 1990.

Possible explanation: The Pil eated woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) is sl ightly smal l er and much more common in the United States. It has a dark bill and an undulating flight pattern.

Sources: John V. Dennis, "A Last Remnant of Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers in Cuba," Auk 65 (1948): 497-507; John V. Dennis, "Return of the Ivory-Bill," Animals 10 (March 1968): 492-497; "An Ivory-Billed Woodpecker," Pursuit, no. 7 (July 1969): 49; John V. Dennis, "The Ivory-Bil l ed Woodpecker, Campephilus principalis," AviculturalMagazine 85 (1979): 75-84; "Ivory-Bil l ed Woodpecker Found Al ive in Cuba," ISC Newsletter 5, no. 2 (Summer 1986): 3-5; Martjan Lammertink, "No More Hope for the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker," Cotinga, February 1995, at http://www. neotropical birdcl ub.org/feature/ivory.html ;

Christopher Cokinos, Hope Is the Thing with Feathers (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2000), pp. 59-117; Orlando H. Garrido and Arturo Kirkconnell, Field Guide to the Birds ofCuba (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2000), p. 152; Karl Shuker, "Woodpecker Discovery?" Fortean Times, no. 139 (November 2000): 23; Errol Fuller, Extinct Birds (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University, 2001), pp. 267-274; Scott Weidensaul, The Ghost with Trembling Wings

(New York: North Point Press, 2002), pp. 45-64; Chester Moore Jr., "High Strangeness Report: Is the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Extinct?" 2002, on line at http://www. anomalist.com/reports/woodpecker2.html; James Gorman, "Listening for the Call of a Vanished Bird," New York Times, March 5, 2002, p. F1; James Gorman, "Faint Hope for Survival of a Woodpecker Fades," New York Times, June 10, 2002, p. A14.

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