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Now, I haven’t seen many peckers but those who have say that this one is among the largest of them all!1 Those who have seen it directly tend to say phrases like “Holy Grail” and “Good God.”2

Oh, you want some facts, right? Well, this pecker here is super rare,3 so don’t expect to find lots of these to measure accurately. It’s about 20 inches long and it weighs at least 1 pound. It’s strong and hard enough to peel the bark off of trees just to access a hole to satisfy its needs.4 It’s often seen near cougars, since they have similar needs in their, eh, habitat.5

Granted, some say6 that there’s another one of these at Cuba,7 pretty much the same size and shape, but who wants to go that far when you can find one of these in Southeastern USA?8 I mean, if you have questions, you can ask for Lovette’s comparison of both.9

Interested in mating? This one’s good for a lifetime and comes with lots of travel,10 as long as its home is grounded on solid, living wood.11 Should the situation need it, It can stay warm all night long12 and is able to switch positions every few hours throughout the day.13

Want some testimonials, eh?

  • Just trying to look at it has been described as «most exciting».14
  • After seeing it in 2004,15 a study was conducted to verify reports of its size and associated noises.16 This alone stimulated the economy of Brinkley, Arkansas.17
  • Its praises have been literally sung aloud,18 which is understandable once you realize how many people consider it to be almost too good to be true.19

Can’t wait to see it? It’s an old photo, but here it is in all its glory or, if you wish to see some action, here it is about to relieve its female and here they are in the middle of switching positions.

Who said ornithology wasn’t interesting?


All footnotes are quotes from the Wikipedia article «Ivory-billed woodpecker » (2020)

A ReQuested writeup: «Open request: Fill a nodeshell that has a naughty connotation or word in the title with anything you want, even a factual that would make Klaproth applaud.»

Also part of Bird Quest 2020


References

Wikipedia contributors. 2020. “Ivory-Billed Woodpecker — Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.” https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ivory-billed_woodpecker&oldid=938194058.


  1. The ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) is one of the largest woodpeckers in the world.

  2. The ivory-billed woodpecker is sometimes referred to as the “holy grail bird” (because of its rarity and elusiveness) and the “Lord God bird” or the “Good God bird” (both based on the exclamations of awed onlookers)

  3. Habitat destruction and, to a lesser extent, hunting has reduced populations so thoroughly that the species is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature…

  4. To hunt woodboring grubs the bird uses its enormous bill to hammer, wedge, and peel the bark off dead trees to access their tunnels.

  5. They often had other disappearing species with similar habitat needs, such as the red wolf and eastern cougar.

  6. Ornithologists currently recognize two subspecies of this bird.

  7. Cuban ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis bairdii or Campephilus bairdii)

  8. American ivory-billed woodpecker (Campephilus principalis principalis or Campephilus principalis)

  9. [Irby Lovette, of the Fuller Evolutionary Biology Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology] said that more testing is needed to support that change, but concluded, “These results will likely initiate an interesting debate on how we should classify these birds.”

  10. The ivory-billed woodpecker is thought to mate for life. Pairs are also known to travel together.

  11. Both parents work together to excavate a cavity in a tree (…) with the limited data indicating a preference for living trees

  12. Parents incubate the eggs cooperatively, with the male observed to incubated [sic] overnight

  13. …the two birds typically exchanging places every two hours during the day, with one foraging and one incubating.

  14. [American naturalist, ornithologist, illustrator and educator] Roger Tory Peterson called his unsuccessful search for the birds along the Congaree River in the 1930s his “most exciting bird experience”

  15. Gene Spalding reported seeing an ivory-billed woodpecker in Cache River National Wildlife Refuge in 2004

  16. An expedition (…) followed, which reported seven convincing sightings of an ivory-billed woodpecker. The team also heard and recorded possible double-knock and kent calls, and produced a video with four seconds of footage of a large woodpecker, which they identified as an ivory-billed woodpecker due to its size, field marks, and flight pattern.

  17. After the publication of the Fitzpatrick results, tourist attention was drawn to eastern Arkansas, with tourist spending up 30% [sic] in and around the city of Brinkley, Arkansas.

  18. Sufjan Stevens wrote a song titled “The Lord God Bird” on the ivory-billed woodpecker…

  19. By the twenty-first century, the ivory-billed woodpecker had achieved a near-mythic status among birdwatchers, most of whom would regard it as a prestigious entry on their life lists.

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