Imperial woodpeckers–extinct or hanging on?

Large, stuffed black and white woodpecker with red crest

Imperial Woodpecker (male) from

I had never even heard of an Imperial Woodpecker, and no wonder. They were last seen in 1956, after an eradication campaign by lumber companies in the pine forests of the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. The forest workers feared that the giant woodpeckers would damage lumber. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology recently acquired a copy of the only known film footage. There may still be a few in remote wooded pockets of the mountains, but even those are being damaged by illegal drug growers.


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