Ivory-billed Woodpecker

"Swamp Ghost" by Paschalis Dougalis (watercolours on LANA Cold pressed 300 g/m² paper)

Νobody knows for sure if the Ivory billed woodpecker still exists, but this enigmatic species has always fascinated me since I read about it first, and this fascination keeps the hope alive, that it`s still somewhere in the woods.
— Paschalis Dougalis

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Ivory-billed woodpeckers require expansive areas of continuous forest with large trees, and they must have a constant supply of dead or dying trees in which they can excavate cavities and forage for beetle larvae, their staple food. They once inhabited both the upland and lowland forests of the southeastern U.S.

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Family Life

These birds nest in tree cavities, and females lay 1-5 eggs. Ivory-billed woodpeckers are presumed to be monogamous. Average time to independence is one year.


The lifespan of ivory-billed woodpeckers is unknown.  

Hunting Habits/Diet

These birds prefer insects, fruits, and nuts. Ivory-billed woodpeckers use their enormous white bill to strip bark from dead but standing trees, and to access the beetle larvae that make up their primary food. Their bills were once decorative objects prized by some Native Americans.


The bird had last been spotted by trained observers prior to WWII, and was assumed by most ornithologists to have gone extinct, but it was sighted in an Arkansas swamp in 2005.

Fun Facts

  • Thought to be extinct since the mid-20th century, a live ivory-billed woodpecker was seen in video footage captured in Arkansas in 2005.

  • They are the largest woodpeckers north of Mexico and the third largest in the world.

  • The bills of the Ivory-billed woodpecker were used as decorations by Native Americans and were traded across North America.

Why Are They Endangered?

Destruction of the woodpecker's forest habitat caused populations to decline.  Although the species was thought to be extinct, it was rediscovered in Arkansas in 2005, though there have been no confirmed sightings since then. While not officially labelled as extinct, the species is listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


Critically Endangered


  • http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/ivory-billed-woodpecker/

  • https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ivory-billed_Woodpecker/lifehistory

  • http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Campephilus_principalis/