Distinguishing between Ivory-billed and Pileated woodpeckers

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus principalis) is the third largest woodpecker in the world, and the largest woodpecker north of Mexico. At 18 to 20 inches tall, it has a wingspan of 30 to 31 inches and weighs 16 to 20 ounces. The bird has a jet black body with large white patches on the wings. A white stripe extends from below each yellow-colored eye, down the sides of the neck and onto the sides of its back. When the wings are folded, it appears that there is a large "shield" of white on the lower back of an ivory-bill. The males have a brilliant red color at the back of their crests, which curves back, whereas the females have a black crest that curves forward.

Because the Ivory-billed Woodpecker looks superficially similar to the slightly smaller and more common Pileated Woodpecker, successful identification requires knowing about the distribution, behaviors, and field marks of both species.

For side-by-side comparisons of Ivory-billed and Pileated woodpecker distributions, habitats, field marks, and sounds, read "Identifying and Reporting an Ivory-billed Woodpecker."

Learn more by visiting the profiles of both species on the All About Birds web site.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker