Ivory-billed Woodpecker Field Trips

_MG_3418 copy
National Biodiversity Parks’ volunteers, naturalists, ecologists and zoologists have designed, staffed and led formal and reconnaissance field study teams, as they successfully surveyed for Ivory-billed Woodpeckers over the last 14 years. We have developed, utilized, field tested and adjusted unique survey and attraction methods under the review of scientists and government departments.

We have collectively spent over 600 searcher days in the field in 4 states. Ivory-billeds are absent from many areas and even if present are extremely wary animals. Additionally a pair can range over 6 to 50 square miles. It takes field experience, skill, patience and substantial effort to find one bird; it’s more like a hunting expedition than the usual birding outing. Regardless on multiple occasions we have located a bird within one field week in a very few select areas. On some trips we will be using approved and/or permitted attraction methods. We also encounter and identify many other exciting species of animals and plants, but the research target takes precedence.

The methods utilized are field tested; they were gradually refined as we shared and discussed what actually works with several independent and academic field searchers. We have tread lightly and quietly while studying the Ivory-bills’ literature, fields marks, flight characteristics, calls (and their meaning), double knocks, microhabitat preferences, feeding sign, seasonality, breeding phenology and ecology. Through our field work, which is recorded on custom data sheets, we have developed presence/absence maps for several large areas and a general occupancy model. Ivory-billeds are only in a handful of locations in a few states but other areas still need to be visited by experienced searchers.

On some trips, NBP spends a portion of time searching new areas that have never been surveyed or we feel have not be properly examined in the recent past. In “new” areas” we are not sure what will be encountered, so we are extra pensive and vigilant.

We are also open to inquiries on searching Cuba; this would require extensive paperwork and lead time. Encountering Ivory-billeds, as scores of searchers have in the SE United States, is exhilarating. When any of us hears or sees a species they have never encountered before, there is hesitancy; you have no field experience with that animal. You’re excited, but unsure. NBP’s field people have gone through that scenario multiple times and are able to point out the sometimes distant calls or knocks of this very, very rare species for you; we then move closer as a team via strict methods. We share our knowledge accumulated in several hundred field hours in the SE US attracting, listening and looking for the “Lord God Bird”.

1319 copy
Please join us on your own custom trip by filling out the form below; up to 50% of trip costs may be tax deductible. If you are not able to look for Ivory-billeds yourself, but would like to sponsor our important field work with a donation please contact us via email or contact form. If you sponsor a specific trip we will report back to you in writing and with pictures on the effort.

Make a reservation inquiry right here with range of dates.

Contact us

Report Your Possible Ivory-billed Woodpecker Encounters

aaaaa FL Green Swamp 08 Pine Gob copy
You may hear, see or suspect you heard or saw an Ivory-billed Woodpecker. Report your possible Ivory-billed Woodpecker encounter to us. NBP will review all the details of your report by email and phone. If applicable we may visit the area of your sighting or hearing of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker or suspected Ivory-billed.

National Biodiversity Parks has directly explored and formally surveyed many areas in the SE US inclusive of all the specific or general areas strongly asserted or confirmed by various researchers to have had birds in the 1930s. Interestingly but not inconsistent with general ecological considerations and natality, birds are still present in 3 of the 4 areas described by James Tanner.

Ivory-billeds recently were found  in LA, SC and the panhandle of FL by various searchers with specific areas in these states also confirmed by NBP.

We have visited, surveyed and interviewed key people in the southern third of FL several times, with a concentration on Big Cypress National Preserve, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve and Green Swamp Preserve. We could not locate any birds or  find any credible reports of Ivory-bills in the last twenty years.  We interviewed the main scientific field personnel in the two SW preserves who had accumulated many decades of field presence with negative conclusions.  The species may be extirpated in the southern third of FL.

aaaaa Ivory-bill_pair
IMG_3633 copy
Although we welcome sighting reports from the SE US we have a short list of forested areas and habitat types that we have ground-truthed for presence of Ivory-billeds. The last Ivory-bills avoid areas frequented by humans. if possible, and gravitate to areas where hunters, hikers and birders seldom or cannot visit often because of physical barriers.

The population is so low that they have a choice of the most inaccessible, to humans, forested swamp areas to forage in, roost in and nest. People have been hunting Ivory-bills for hundreds of years and it is likely that the aversion to humans is now innate. An Ivory-bill likely needs only an hour or two per day to meet its caloric needs, this can likely be accomplished within a few quality square miles of its range.

Temporal points in the breeding phenology will however put various spatial, caloric and foraging demands on a pair of Ivory-bills.  At these times Ivory-bills must expand their daily movements in response to hormone levels and perhaps photoperiod and other physical characteristics of their habitat.

They prefer larger, roadless habitat blocks with numerous braided stream beds and bayous. They also will select areas that have relatively more, recently dead, standing wood.  We have found that small area forests, and those with trees less than 50 years old, forests with suboptimal standing dead wood, areas with weekly or greater human visitation and areas lacking seclusion will have an extremely low density to no birds.  Subpar habitat in larger parks will in generally not be occupied with much frequency.

If you desire, we welcome your assistance, experience and advice as we survey the area. Please contact us. Put in the comment section what you saw in detail. Report your Ivory-billed Woodpecker sightings here:

Contact us

IMG_4396 copy
IMG_6713 copy

Ivory-billed Woodpecker Matching Grants Available

LA 3-09 034 copy

NBP offers small matching grants or field assistance to independent Ivory-bill Woodpecker field workers/researchers. We know the expenses, logistical problems and time needed for studying the Ivory-billed, since we have absorbed the costs and time commitment ourselves.

Availability of funds depends on the amount of donations we receive so general readers should consider making a tax deductible contribution to our various causes.   Private researchers should also consider partnering with NBP because of synergisms created by involving a non-profit corporation.

Our ability to  provide field assistance to researchers depends on various factors.

NBP has performed over 25 Ivory-billed related field studies under varying methodologies and with various partners.  We have extensive experience with all aspects of Ivory-billed research.

Make a preliminary inquiry for a grant or field assistance right here.  You may receive an application form in response.

Contact us

LA 3-09 044 copy
LA 3-09 060 copy