One of the largest woodpeckers in the world, at about 20 inches in length, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker is second only to the (probably extinct) imperial woodpecker of Mexico.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker once inhabited swampy forests in the southeastern United States, from North Carolina to Florida and west to eastern Texas and Arkansas. Due to habitat destruction and hunting, its numbers have dwindled and it may well be that none remain! It was first listed as an endangered species on 11 March 1967. The species is now listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Ivory-billeds are believed to mate for life. They share the duties of incubating their china-white eggs and raising their young, which usually leave the parents’ territory at the end of the season. A pair of Ivory-billeds is estimated to need six square miles of uncut forest. They prefer thick hardwood swamps and pine forests, with large amounts of dead and decaying trees.
It was generally considered extinct in the 1920s when a pair turned up in Florida. By 1938, an estimated 20 individuals remained in the wild. In 2004 there were reports of at least one male Ivory-billed Woodpecker in Arkansas but subsequent investigations, by a team led by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, could find no definitive confirmation of those reports.
However, since the 1940s, there is has been no conclusive evidence for the continued existence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker.