Step 2: Habitat Comparison

Identifying and Reporting an Ivory-billed Woodpecker

If your sighting is not within one of the states listed in step 1, you probably saw a Pileated Woodpecker.

Pileated Woodpecker

  • Variety of mature forest types
  • Secondary forest -- deciduous or coniferous
  • Rural or suburban neighborhoods with tall trees
  • Parks or golf courses with tall trees

Ivory-billed Woodpecker

  • Extensive, mature bottomland hardwood forest
  • Mature or old-growth cypress forest
  • Mature or old-growth southern pine forest
  • Areas of dying timber

Habitat of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers inhabit very large tracts of mature forest that are often associated with swamps or river systems (see photos below).

Stand of cypress trees in White River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Clark Jones.
Flooded stand of hardwoods in Cache River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Melanie Driscoll.

If your observation occurred within the range of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker and in appropriate habitats, then proceed to Step 3 ยป

If the bird you saw was in a sparsely forested area, such as your backyard or on a golf course, then it was probably a Pileated Woodpecker. For more information about the Pileated Woodpecker, please visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Online Bird Guide.

We hope you'll record your sightings of Pileated Woodpeckers at eBird, a free online checklist program that allows you to contribute sightings of any bird species to a continentwide database accessible by scientists, conservationists, and other bird watchers.

To receive the latest updates about the search for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, visit The Big Woods Conservation Partnership web site at or sign up for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's free eNews updates. Just type your email address into the box under "Join Our eNews Group" at You can unsubscribe at any time. If you have questions, please contact us at