Santa Ana, Texas
Tbmales Bay, Calf,
SPECIES WITH HIGHEST INDIVIDUAL COUNTS IN NATION
HOUSTON COUNT - 1956
Black Tern (1) (Reported on no other~u7s„ count J
Loggerhead Shrike (364) (3,645 on 205 U,S, counts)
Lincoln's Sparrow (99) (382 on 44 U.S. counts)
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THE IVORY-BILLED WOODPECKER -(James T. Tanner)
From u'Our Endangered Wildlife", a publieation of the National Wildlife
The Ivory-billed Woodpecker was never a common bird, but it has long
been famous. Its large size and Imposing appearance captured the imagination
of both Indians and early naturalists. It is the largest woodpecker in
North America, larger than a crow. Its shining black and white plumage,
scarlet crest in the male, and large white bill combine with Its vigorous
and graceful actions and far-carrying voice to impress any observer. It
differs from its relative, the Pileated Woodpecker, In being larger, showing
more white in Its plumage, especially on the back when perched, and the
voice sounding like a nasal tin trumpet.
Ivory-billed Woodpeckers originally lived in the swamps of the
southern states. From southeastern North Carolina to eastern Texas they
inhabited the large river swamps along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, living
in forests of oak, gum, and other hardwoods and cypress. In the Mississippi
bottomlands they extended northward at least to the mouth of the Ohio,
preferring the first bottom forest of sweet gum, oaks and ash. Throughout
Florida they Inhabited cypress swamps, frequently moving into the surrounding pine woods for feeding.
Ivory-billed Woodpeckers' habitats are also the favored homes of other
kinds of woodpeckers, whieh are more abundant in these forested swamps than
in upland forests and which always have been more abundant than Ivory-
bills. To Illustrate this a tract of 6 square miles can be cited which
supported one pair of Ivory-bills in addition to an estimated 36 pairs of
Pileated and 126 pairs of Red-bellied Woodpeckers.
Ivory-bills feed upon wood-boring insects, particularly those kinds
that live in the Inner bark and between the bark and sapwood of trees or
limbs not too long dead. The bark in this stage is still hard and tight,
but the big woodpeckers hack and seale it loose by powerful side blows with
their bills. This manner of feeding leaves characteristic signs—bare and
barkless areas on dead limbs and trunks of trees too sound to be attacked
In the same way by lesser woodpeckers. The prefered Insect foods are often
very abundant, but they are present for a relatively short time, disappearing when the bark loosens in the process of decay. Thus the Ivory-bills'
food Is likely to be irregularly distributed, varying from place to place
and from time to time. To find an adequate supply they range farther and
require more area than do other woodpeckers.
Ivory-bills nest in cavities they dig in trees. From one to four eggs,
two being usual, are laid in early spring. Both parents incubate the eggs
and care for the young. One brood is raised each year.
Ivory-bills began to disappear from their original range as soon as
loggers invaded the southern swamps. In several Instances the disappearance of the woodpeckers coincided with the cutting of the forests. The
real cause was probably the indirect destruction of their food supply,
•for the young trees left in a cut-over forest provided much less food for
woodpeckers than do the mature trees of a virgin or old forest. After such
a forest has been out, the different kinds of woodpeckers may maintain their
status for about two years, then they decrease markedly in numbers. The
Ivory-bills, with their specific food requirements, were the first to go,
and the ones which were lost permanently from the cut-over swamps.
By 1885 the birds had disappeared from the northern part of their
original range. The greatest decrease occurred between 1885 and 1900 when
the southern logging industry grew most rapidly. By 1915 the species was