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Nature & Environment

Ivory-billed woodpecker joins extinction list

By T.K. Randall
October 1, 2021 · Comment icon 4 comments

The ivory-billed woodpecker appears to be gone for good. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 James St. John
The distinctive bird is among 23 species in the US that are about to be declared officially extinct by authorities.
Sporting a distinctive red crest, white stripe and black feathers, the ivory-billed woodpecker was once a common sight in the old-growth forests of the Southern United States.

With the last confirmed sighting of a live specimen dating back to 1987, however, the outlook for the species has seemed increasingly grim over the last few decades, and while there have been sporadic reported sightings, the likelihood of it still surviving in the wild is now close to none.

Now in a rare move, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to announce on Wednesday that 23 critically endangered species, including the ivory-billed woodpecker, have officially gone extinct.

Most of the other animals on the list, such as the flat pigtoe (a freshwater muscle), were only ever reported once or twice and then never seen again.
The reasons for these extinctions range from deforestation and over-hunting to pollution and the impact of invasive species - but in all cases it is humans that were ultimately responsible.

Cornell University bird biologist John Fitzpatrick however has warned that declaring a species extinct prematurely can itself bring about its extinction if it is otherwise hanging on by a thread.

"Little is gained and much is lost [by declaring the ivory-billed woodpecker extinct]," he said.

"A bird this iconic, and this representative of the major old-growth forests of the southeast, keeping it on the list of endangered species keeps attention on it, keeps states thinking about managing habitat on the off chance it still exists."

Source: | Comments (4)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Hawken 2 years ago
Animal species once declared extinct have turned up years later. Such as the Pygmy Right Whale.
Comment icon #2 Posted by HandsomeGorilla 2 years ago
functional extinction is when scientists have not recorded or sighted or documented a species in fifty years, it doesn't necessarily mean they're completely absent from the planet  my parents used to swear we had one inside the big oak tree beside our house when I was a young kid. the hilarious part is that you could knock on the side of our house (wood) and the babies would all poke their heads out lol I don't think it was an ivory bill, just another species of very large woodpecker here in SC  you don't see very many large woodpeckers anymore, although a coworker and I spotted a very large... [More]
Comment icon #3 Posted by Overdueleaf 2 years ago
i get all giddy when i see a pileated woodpecker, its been a few years since I have seen one
Comment icon #4 Posted by Jon the frog 2 years ago
See them each year, they are digging mad in ants infested fir arround the house. They go on my suet feeder in late winter. 

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