Ivory-billed Woodpecker

New Peer-Reviewed Paper about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Encouraged by the recent announcement of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to postpone the delisting of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis), Project Principalis, a partnership of the National Aviary and independent reseachers continues to research the existence of the iconic species.

Prior to the extension, the research team 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.

The National Aviary is a leader in avian conservation, animal care, and education. 
You can support our work, including initiatives like these.

Donate Today

Presented Video Evidence to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The findings, 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 principalismedia@aviary.org or call 412-258-1144.

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 Ivory-billed Woodpecker has been the subject of fascination and debate for more than a century. That’s what led the National Aviary to join an ongoing search effort to find this elusive species, together forming Project Principalis.

Through this project, the National Aviary collaborates with independent researchers, community scientists, and nature enthusiasts who once made up the long-running Ivorybill search, known as Project Coyote. This collaborative search effort began at the invitation of Matt Courtman in 2018.

During the 2018-2019 field season, the project embarked on a further cooperative effort with the University of Pittsburgh, focused on gathering acoustic data, collecting environmental DNA samples, and locating roost and nest sites.

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

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.

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.

Learn More About Our Work

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 becca.hansborough@aviary.org.

For general questions and comments about the work of Project Principalis, please contact projectprincipalis@aviary.org.

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

Support Our Work

In The News

See All News

Pa. aviary announces new member of ‘extinct-in-the-wild’ species | PennLive

Here’s some wonderful news with regards to wildlife conservation efforts. A bird that has been considered extinct for decades has gained a fresh hatchling.

Read More »

Faces of the Valley: O’Hara’s Sarah Jones parlays passion for teaching into Volunteer of the Year Award from National Aviary | TribLive

O’Hara resident Sarah Jones calls herself a lucky duck. For her efforts, Jones, was named the Aviary’s 2023 Volunteer of the Year.

Read More »

National Aviary mourning loss of its first penguin, Stanley | WPXI

Stanley, who was named for the Stanley Cup, joined the family flock at the National Aviary in 2001 when he was two months old.

Read More »

Two Eurasian Eagle-Owl Chicks Hatch at National Aviary | National Aviary

A Eurasian Eagle-Owl, one of the largest owl species in the world, has hatched at the National Aviary.

Read More »