DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — FOX 8’s sister station in Dayton has received numerous reports of what viewers thought to be the presumed extinct Ivory-billed woodpecker, but experts say it is actually a similar woodpecker that is common in the Miami Valley.
While the first sighting in over 70 years would be historic, birdwatchers will still have to dream of seeing the ivory-billed woodpecker. You have to go back to 1944, when gas was 21 cents a gallon for the last confirmed sighting of the bird in Louisiana. The presumed extinct bird was found primarily in the south and east historically, much further south than the Miami Valley.
Grace Dietsch, regional conservation manager for Five Rivers MetroParks, said, “They’re pretty secluded to those really old growth kind of swamplands or, you know, old growth river like the riparian woods, as is generally their habitat.”
When logging and deforestation began, numbers of ivory-billed woodpeckers fell as well.
Dr. Don Cipollini, professor of biological sciences at Wright State University, said, “These areas have been subject to logging, for example. So, habitat loss, they may need large trees. They feed off of one of their food sources or large beetles that infest large trees.”
They can be mistaken as the pileated woodpecker, which has a darker beak, whiter face, and blacker back.
Meredith Gilbert, publication editor at the Ohio Division of Wildlife, said, “Have significantly less white in their wings and their tail feathers than the ivory billed did and so they are potentially easily mistaken.”
Researchers continue to search for the ivory-billed woodpecker but have nothing concrete to show for it yet.
Cipollini said, “If they can’t find it in the best habitat or the former habitat of the bird, it’s extremely unlikely anyone else is going to see it far out of the former range of the bird.”
The pileated woodpecker is the largest active woodpecker in North America, just smaller than the ivory-billed woodpecker.