The Glory Years
Prior to the European discovery of North America, the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker thrived throughout the Southeastern region of the continent, which was then covered by forests that created the perfect woodpecker habitat. Ah, yes, it was a good time to be an Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.
- Pre-1900: Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers proliferated throughout the region. Unfortunately for the birds, their bills were viewed as a totem of successful warfare by various Indian tribes, and there was a thriving trade for the beaks.
- 1712: Englishman Mark Catesby (1679-1749) comes to North America to catalog plants and animals in the colonies. He was the first Westerner to describe the species, calling it the "largest White-bill Wood-pecker." View Catesby's 1712 painting of the bird.
- Circa 1825: Naturalist John Audubon (1785-1851) encounters many Ivory-billed woodpeckers on his trip through the Southeast. He paints the most well-known painting of the species.
- 1837:Audubon visits Texas, and writes "I found [ivory-bills] very abundant along the finely wooded margins of that singular stream called 'Buffalo Bayou' in Texas, where we procured several specimens."