Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Closest I'll get to an Ivory-billed Woodpecker

The debate about the existence of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker presses on, but I've come close to seeing one myself. Well, sort of. I've had a close encounter with its cousin - the Pale-billed Woodpecker (Campephilus guatemalensis) of Central America. Many of us know about its other close cousin, the Pileated Woodpecker of the US. But, I think this one is an even closer relative for 3 reasons.

First, it is in the same genus (Campephilus) as the Ivory-billed Woodpecker (IBWP), making them genetic relatives. Second, it has a loud, double-rap drum similar to the infamous double-rap of the IBWP. Third, and this is just me talking here, the name "Pale-billed" is almost like saying "Ivory-billed". In any event, seeing this bird in Costa Rica was really a treat. It flew in close and perched horizontally on a mossy branch. It had a really life-like eye that turned and looked in all directions. It's fiery red crest glowed against the dark green of the rainforest. I can only imagine what it must be like to see the Ivory-billed!


MojoMan said...

I think the first time I ever saw a photo of a pale-billed was on either Bill of the Bird's or Julie Zickefoose's blog. I was amazed at how much like an ivory-billed it looks.

Are they as large as the ivory-bill was? Have you seen the Ivory-bill Skeptic?


Patrick Belardo said...

Hey Mojo, they definitely are not as large as the IBWP. The Pale-billed is 14.5" and the IBWP is about 19.5", wow! The Pileated is abut 16-19" long. I've seen the Ivory-bill Skeptic. He has a lot of interesting info on there. I try to remain impartial in the whole debate.