Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Critically Endangered

Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis)


French: Pic à bec ivoire German: Elfenbeinspecht Spanish: Picamaderos picomarfil

Picus principalis


, 1758,

South Carolina, USA


Closely related to C. imperialis. Cuban race bairdii considered possibly a separate species by some, and recent molecular analysis suggests that it is (or was) genetically as distinct from nominate as from C. imperialis#R; morphologically, however, it is close to nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. p. principalis (Linnaeus, 1758) – Northern Ivory-billed Woodpecker – SE USA (probably extinct).
  • C. p. bairdii Cassin, 1863 – Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker – Cuba (probably extinct).
  • Descriptive notes

    48–53 cm; c. 450–570 g. Extremely large, distinctive woodpecker. Male has side of crown back to underside of crest, rear of head and nape red, with paler feather... read more


    Common note when alarmed “kent” or “hant”, timbre like clarinet or toy... read more


    Heavy forest in often inaccessible hardwood and cypress swamps; originally, probably mainly pine (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Chiefly large larvae of wood-boring beetles (Cerambycidae, Buprestidae, Scolytidae, Elateridae, Eucnemidae), which also fed to young;... read more


    Jan–Apr in USA; Mar–Jun in Cuba, with peak in Apr. Displays with crest-raising, possibly also head-swinging. Nest excavated in... read more



    Status and conservation

    CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. Probably extinct. Formerly occurred at low density throughout SE USA and Cuba. Nominate subspecies once widely distributed in SE USA, from Oklahoma and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 14 December 2019).