Identifying and Reporting an Ivory-billed Woodpecker
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, in conjunction with its partners, is gathering historic and current information about possible sightings of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers. Reports will be compiled and reviewed to inform future search and conservation efforts.
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is extremely rare and elusive, and is restricted to mature forests of the Southeast. The Pileated Woodpecker is a very large woodpecker that is surprisingly common in many parts of the United States, including all areas formerly inhabited by the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. If you are seeing a large black-and-white woodpecker, it is important to carefully examine the field marks and behavior to distinguish between these superficially similar species. The Pileated Woodpecker is much more common and approachable, and can be seen on telephone poles or at suet feeders in backyards.
Because many reports we receive turn out to be sightings of Pileated Woodpeckers, we ask that you please follow the links below to help determine which species you saw, before reporting your sighting.
- Step 1: Check the distribution maps to make make sure your sighting was within the range of the ivory-bill.
- Step 2: Evaluate the habitat to make sure your sighting was consistent with ivory-bill habitat.
- Step 3: Verify that you saw ivory-bill field marks.
- Step 4: Report your sighting using the online form.
Just For Fun
Actor Alan Alda describes some of the differences between a Pileated Woodpecker and an Ivory-billed Woodpecker in this clip from a 1973 television movie called "Isn't It Shocking?"