Imperial Woodpecker Campephilus imperialis

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With an estimated body mass of ca. 700 g the Imperial Woodpecker was the largest woodpecker by far. It is listed as Critically Endangered by BirdLife International, but may now be extinct. It is distinguished from the closely related Ivory-billed Woodpecker C. principalis by absence of a white stripe on its black neck and face, larger size, and proportionally larger crest. Often reported in small groups, it occurred in northwestern Mexico in open, old-growth pine-oak forests from 1,900 m elevation and up (mostly 2,300 m and up), in flat or lightly undulating table lands that were easily logged. Population numbers declined from 1930 onward as logging took out large pines for timber and standing dead trees for pulp, on which the species depended for insect food and cavities. Logging roads also resulted in hunting of Imperial Woodpeckers for food, folk remedies, and out of curiosity. Local reports indicated a few Imperial Woodpeckers may have survived into the early 1990s, but the last confirmed record (and only photographic documentation) is from 1956 when William L. Rhein made a short 16mm film of one female.

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
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Recommended Citation

Imperial Woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: