Project Principalis

New Peer-Reviewed Paper about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Project Principalis has released new evidence supporting the persistence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in Louisiana. The research appears in the open access peer-reviewed journal, Ecology and Evolution. The paper builds on an existing body of work and presents personal accounts, audio recordings, trail camera images, and drone footage depicting multiple birds, supplemented with new videos.

Read more about the research here.

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Project Principalis Presents Video Evidence to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Encouraged by the recent announcement by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of an extended comment period on the status of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), Project Principalis, a partnership of independent researchers and the National Aviary have submitted additional public comments. The comments, which suggest the continuing survival of the iconic birds in Louisiana, include a pre-print paper documenting multiple lines of evidence published earlier this year on the pre-print server bioRxiv, and new video evidence showing what appears to be an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. The submissions are available for the public to access on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service website. The video can be viewed here.

View the full presentation to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service including supplemental materials and video, and find additional supporting comments here. Read the press release announcing the new findings here.

Press inquiries: please contact or call 412-258-1144.

Project Principalis: A Search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Aside from the Passenger Pigeon, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is perhaps the most legendary North American bird. An impressive, large bird with striking features, the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker has been the subject of fascination and debate for over a century.

Steve Latta and Mark Michaels
Dr. Steve Latta and Mark Michaels in Louisiana.

Project Principalis is a search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, one of North America’s most storied and iconic birds. The project is a collaboration between the National Aviary and the researchers, community scientists, and nature enthusiasts who made up the long-running Ivorybill search known as Project Coyote.

Project Coyote was founded by Mark A. Michaels and the late Frank Wiley, a Louisiana native, to search for evidence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in the state, and to follow up on local reports of sightings. Mark first began blogging about the effort 2013, but the search for information and evidence of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers in Louisiana began in 2008.

Frank Wiley and Mark Michaels wearing camo in the woods
Founders of the original Project Coyote search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Frank Wiley and Mark Michaels.

At the invitation of Matt Courtman, the National Aviary joined Project Coyote and the search effort in 2018, forming the new Project Principalis. During the 2018-2019 field season, Project Principalis embarked on a collaborative effort with the National Aviary and the University of Pittsburgh, focused on gathering acoustic data, collecting environmental DNA samples, and locating roost and nest sites. Researchers are aiming to document Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, document concrete evidence that establishes the species’ persistence, and start gathering behavioral data about what they believe is at least one group of surviving birds.

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Listen to the enchanting call of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker incorporated into the melody of Boscoyo Fleaux ft. Dickie Landry by Louis Michot.

For media inquiries, please contact the National Aviary’s Department of Marketing and Communications at

For general questions and comments about the work of Project Principalis, please contact

Support this important project by directing your donation to Project Principalis.

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