Ivory-billed Woodpecker Small Journal
The following description appears on the inside cover of your small journal.
For a short window of time, the “Lord God Bird” seemed to have appeared, like a ghost, in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas. But scientist are certain now that this beautiful bird remains extinct. Intense predation by collectors, and the logging of millions of acres of Southern bottomland forest have contributed to the demise of this giant of the woods.
The bird’s nickname originated because people cried “Lord God, look at that bird!” when they saw the largest woodpecker in North America. Measuring nearly two feet long, with a three-foot wingspan, the Ivory-billed was slightly larger than a crow. It had glossy blue-black feathers and white stripes that zigzagged from each cheek and ran down the sides of its neck, forming white suspenders that curved to make a saddle on the lower back. Its long bill was bone-white; its eyes bright yellow. The male had a startling scarlet crest while the crest of the female was entirely black.
People often mistook the Pileated Woodpecker for an Ivory-billed because the Pileated is also large, but the Ivory-billed had white on its back while the Pileated’s back is all black. Other defining characteristics of the Ivory-billed were its white bill, a nasal “kent kent” call, loud double-rap drumming on trees, and the size of the tree cavities it created.
Marvels of evolution, woodpeckers are members of the Picidae family equipped with strong zygodactyl feet (two toes in front, two in the rear), stiff tails, and tongues so long they curl up inside their thick skulls when not in use. The scientific name of the Ivory-billed is Campephilus principalis, or “principal lover of caterpillars,” referring to its appetite for beetle larvae. The bird stripped bark from large dead and dying trees to find them.
May the Lord God Bird be a reminder to us all that habitat protection is necessary and worth fighting for, for all birds, big and small
artwork by John Sill
text by Kara Jean Hagedorn
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