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The hawk-sized ivory-billed woodpecker was the largest woodpecker in North America. It was sometimes called the “Lord God bird” because it was so magnificent that birdwatchers cried “Lord God” when one was seen. It had a black body, bold white wing patches, and a long, ivory-white bill. Males had red crests.


The ivory-billed woodpecker was never common and lived in the swamplands of the southeastern United States. When the swamps were drained and the forests around the swamps were cleared for houses and development, Ivory-billed woodpeckers faded away. As early as the 1950s, it was feared this amazing bird was extinct, though there were plenty of people who claimed to have seen the bird.


Since then, scientists and birdwatchers have been searching for evidence of the woodpecker. On April 28, 2005, birdwatchers across the world rejoiced with the news that scientists reported that at least one ivory-billed woodpecker had been sighted in the Big Woods of central Arkansas – a huge area of swampy forests along the Cache River. The story that the ivory-billed woodpecker had been sighted made national news and was featured on the front pages of newspapers throughout the United States. People were thrilled that a bird thought of as extinct may still survive. The town of Brinkley, near where the ivory-billed woodpecker was seen, even celebrated an ivory-billed woodpecker festival.


Unfortunately, no new sightings have been reported. The 2005 sightings have even been questioned as there are no pictures or recordings. Could the ivory-billed woodpecker still exist? Who knows? For now, scientists are still searching for the elusive “Lord God” bird.