Ivorybill Natural History

Ivory-Billed Woodpecker Natural History

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 more about the Ivorybill’s range and habitat in a series of discussions here.

 

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

 

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 a deeper discussion on bark scaling here.

 

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. 

 

Status: Critically Endangered