Ivory-billed Woodpecker: Challenges & Opportunities

The following article is from the Audubon website

The recent confirmed sighting of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker on the Cache River in Arkansas is a tribute to the determination of an extended team of people who make up the Big Woods Coalition, led by the Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. This is the first verified sighting in 60 years and until April 28, 2005, most people thought that the species was extinct. If a viable population remains we now have the opportunity to protect and expand the habitat upon which the Ivory-billed Woodpecker depends.

The Cache River and White River form an important bird area and fall within a larger Audubon management plan on the Mississippi River for a suite of species including Swallow-tailed Kite, Bald Eagle, and Cerulean Warbler. Audubon has compiled a list of target species and habitats, and is working to protect and restore bottomland forests, wetlands, and coastal areas for these species in the ten states bordering the river from Minnesota to Louisiana. Audubon recognizes that we need long-term planning and multi-state regional cooperation if we are to protect Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, other species, and the habitats upon which they depend along the course of the Mississippi River.

There is another challenge for ordinary birdwatchers, and that comes from identifying the bird. In form, color, and size, the locally common Pileated Woodpecker appears superficially similar to the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Audubon has received many calls from birdwatchers who think they have seen the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. We ask that you look at the accompanying pages that compare and describe these two species. If you remain convinced that you have seen an Ivory-billed Woodpecker you will need to take photographs of the bird. Remember that in any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first: please follow the ABA's Code of Birding Ethics.

Helpful Links:

Woodpecker comparison page

Ivory-billed Woodpecker profile

Pileated Woodpecker profile

Audubon Press Release

Birding ethics