Natural History

Natural History

Status: Critically Endangered

Distribution: In pre-colonial times, Ivory-billed Woodpeckers had an expansive and varied range, from the southern tip of Florida to central Ohio, and westward to St. Louis. As populations decreased, their range became concentrated in the southeastern United States, from eastern Texas to Florida. Read an in-depth discussion of the Ivorybill range and habitat.

Habitat: Ivory-billed Woodpeckers favor forested areas with large trees. Read more about the species’ habitat and how it changed over time.

Diet: Ivorybills are bark foragers; they strip bark from trees in order to extract beetle larvae. They have been observed eating fruits and nuts. Their bark stripping, or scaling, is unique and considered a diagnostic feature. Read an in-depth discussion on bark scaling.

Breeding: Ivorybills are cavity nesters, nesting in excavations on dead trees, or in dead portions of living trees. Both males and females excavate the nest cavity. Clutch size varies from 1 to 5 eggs.

Field Marks: The largest woodpecker species north of Mexico, Ivorybills have heavy, pale bills that are distinctive. Males have a red crest, with a black body showing white lines down the back and white panels in the folded wings. Females show similar markings, but have a black crest.

Sounds: Ivorybills have a distinctive “kent” call. Rather than drumming like most woodpeckers, Ivorybills have a “double knock” pattern. Read more about Ivorybill sounds here.

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