Friday, February 5, 2010

The Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker

It was nice to find this photo of a Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpecker specimen recently on Flickr, which was taken and posted there by Jim Forrest.  Jim wrote about this photo:

Found this specimen in a small Natural History Museum in Gibara, Cuba during a recent visit. Could not get info except that it was donated by Joaquin de la Vara a Naturalist from the area who donated many specimens to the museum. 

Quite a while ago, Jim also shared this photo of a pair of Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpeckers specimens with the related group I run on Flickr.   Jim wrote:

In Holguin, Cuba there are 2 specimens of Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpeckers at the Carlos Torres Natural History Museum in Holguin, Cuba which I have photos of also.

Both photos are posted here with his kind permission.

For 4 additional photos of this bird, see Tim Gallagher's article from 2007 here at Cornell''s site:

Four previously unpublished photographs of Cuban Ivory-billed Woodpeckers

Also, Wikipedia has a fairly substantial entry on this bird with an array of reference links here:


Chris said...

I'm all the time amazed by the size of these woodpeckers! Incredible!

cyberthrush said...

Jerry Jackson has previously employed a fascinating (museum) picture of a Cuban Ivory-bill with a (obviously-deformed) curling 17-inch bill! In a quick check I don't find it on the 'net, but you might stay on the lookout for it.

Bill Benish said...

Their large size sure is amazing Chris, relative to the size of most woodpeckers.

You got me curious cyberthrush. I knew I had seen that photo somewhere too. Although I can't find it online, I did find it along with an account of the living bird on pp.195-196 of "In Search of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker" by Jerry Jackson.

The bird with the 17-inch long bill was a female discovered with two other Ivorybills by German naturalist Johannes Gundlach. He wondered how the female bird could manage to eat with its fantastic bill. He discovered that while she was occasionally fed by two companion birds, she was also able "to poke into large arboreal termite nests and extract termites for herself." Mystery solved, Gundlach summarily shot all three birds to preserve as specimens!

Jackson says this specimen, collected in 1843, now resides at the Cuban Museum of Natural History in Havana.

Thanks for mentioning this very unusual Ivorybill!

Jackson Roe said...

There is a picture of the IBWO with a 17 inch bill in "The Race To Save The Lord God Bird," by Phillip Hoose.

Bill Benish said...

Thanks Jackson. I checked it out, and it is the same bird as the one depicted in Jackson's book, but a different photo.

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