Ivory-billed Woodpecker
Southeast Region
Map of the Southeast Region

Ivorybill Recovery Plan

The Ivory-billed Woodpecker Recovery Plan and Status of Fish and Wildlife Service Actions

The Fish and Wildlife Service, thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker recovery team, now has a comprehensive recovery plan ready to implement wherever and whenever it is needed. Historical information, references, habitat analyses, and examples of action plans are compiled in the recovery plan. The Fish and Wildlife Service and its partners can readily follow the action plan found in Appendix G if there is any change in current status such as new photographic evidence, video, repeated location of birds, identified roost cavity, or active nest(s).

Copies of the recovery plan are available by request from the Service’s Lafayette Field Office at 646 Cajundome Boulevard, Suite 400, Lafayette, Louisiana, 70506, or by visiting the web at: http://www.fws.gov/endangered/species/recovery-plans.html

The Fish and Wildlife Service is aware that writing a recovery plan and taking conservation action for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker generated intense interest and some controversy. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is an icon of southeastern floodplain forests and a symbolic reminder of our historic loss of these wetland habitats. Much of the controversy surrounds the evidence that generated the conservation actions documented in the final recovery plan.

The Fish and Wildlife Service has, independently and objectively, reviewed published interpretations of the Luneau video cited in Fitzpatrick et al. (2005). This review led us to conclude that the alternative interpretations of Sibley et al. (2006) and Collinson (2007) fail to credibly support their assertion that the woodpecker in the Luneau video could reasonably be a Pileated Woodpecker. Additional comparative video footage or the use of models may lead us to formulate alternative interpretations on the identity of the Luneau video woodpecker. However, at this point, our conclusion is that this primary piece as well as other recent evidence compelled us to act on behalf of the species.

Like many in the conservation arena, the Fish and Wildlife Service was hopeful that field searches would lead to additional evidence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker in the Big Woods of eastern Arkansas and other parts of its historic range. Additional evidence was collected during the past four years (including both auditory encounters and sightings concentrated in certain areas). This additional evidence supports the hypothesis that Ivory-billed Woodpeckers continue to exist in Arkansas and other parts of the range. However, due to the inability to reliably locate birds, we cannot at this time conclude that a population of Ivory-billed Woodpeckers is established in this region.

The Service recognizes and supports exchanges of views on alternative interpretations as a part of the scientific process. We understand that there will continue to be questions concerning the accumulated evidence in Fitzpatrick et al. (2005) as constituting confirmation of the species’ persistence in eastern Arkansas. We will continue to review any new published material to ensure that our conclusions and any new actions are supported by the best available information. Although we continue to welcome constructive debate over the interpretation of the Luneau video, the repeated potential visual and auditory encounters in the Big Woods of Arkansas and elsewhere within the historical range of the species cumulatively presented enough evidence to support the region-wide searches. In addition, the potential presence of this species justifies continuing habitat conservation and restoration efforts that were already well underway in eastern Arkansas. Although region-wide federally funded searches have now concluded, the Service will continue to appropriately act on behalf of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended.

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Recovery Plan


Ivory-billed woodpecker

      On February 11, 2004, kayaker Gene Sparling caught a glimpse of a large and majestic woodpecker in the Cache River National Wildlife Refuge of Arkansas. The encounter spurred an extensive scientific search for a species that many feared extinct. Additional sightings and a video from the search have shown that the Ivory-billed Woodpecker has cheated extinction.
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and numerous partners have launched an ambitious recovery program to bring the Ivory-bill – one of the world’s most endangered birds – back from the brink of extinction. Check back often for updates on this recovery program.


Think you've seen one?

IBW News Releases

  • September 26 -- Three Natural Resource Management Agencies Express Cautious Optimism About Researchers' Evidence Suggesting Ivory-billed Woodpeckers Persist in NW Florida -- Learn more...
  • May 18 -- Ivory-billed
    Woodpecker Search Season Ends in Arkansas -- Learn more...
  • April 10 -- Georgia DNR and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Survey Remote Habitat for Evidence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker -- Learn more...

Visit Our News Release Page

Watch the trailer for "A Lost Bird Found" from Ducks Unlimited TV

CBS News Feature on Ivory-billed Woodpecker

NOVA Feature on Ivory-billed Woodpecker

General Brochure for the Ivory-billed WoodpeckerGeneral brochure for the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Accomplishments Report 2008 (pdf)

Accomplishments of Endangered Species Recovery FY 08 Funds (excel or pdf)

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Accomplishments Report 2007 (pdf)

2006-2007 Budget, and Background Information (pdf)

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Accomplishments Report 2006 (excel or pdf)

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Accomplishments Report 2006 Fact Sheet (pdf)

2005-2006 Search Information Updates


Last updated: July 22, 2010
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