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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Ivory-billed Woodpecker -- Campephilus principalis

RANGE: Formerly resident from eastern Texas, southeastern Oklahoma, northeastern Arkansas, southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, southern Indiana, Kentucky, and southeastern North Carolina south to the Gulf Coast, southern Florida, and Cuba.

STATUS: Endangered; may be extinct or nearly so.

HABITAT: Inhabits old-age forests of bottomlands and swamps with dead and dying trees that provide a food source and nest sites. Most birds live in virgin or primitive tree stands, but virgin forests may not be essential as long as there are large numbers of recently dead trees to supply wood-boring grubs and large nesting trees.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Continual supply of dead and dying trees.

NEST: Excavates a new hole each nesting season, seldom in the same tree, in almost all tree species occurring within its range, and in trunks of living and dead trees.

FOOD: Consumes a diet that is about one-third wood-boring larvae. Most abundant in areas where recently dead and dying trees are numerous because of flooding, fire, insect attacks, or storms; stays as long as abundant wood-boring larvae are present. (Wood-boring larvae begin to decline after trees have been dead 2 or 3 years.) Also eats other insects and fruits.

REFERENCES: Beal 1911, Cottam and Knappen 1939, Dennis 1967, Forbush and May 1955, Greenway 1958, Mackenzie 1977, Oberholser 1938, Pearson 1936, Tanner 1966, USDI Fish and Wildlife Service 1980.

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