Campephilus imperialis Gould, 1832:140

Imperial woodpecker



Taxonomy & Nomenclature

Synonym/s: Picus imperialis Gould, 1832:140


Conservation Status


Last record: 1956

IUCN RedList status: Critically Endangered (Possibly Extinct)


I have a report on file of an Imperial woodpecker in an apple tree on Camano Island, Washington State, USA in late October 2014. It was reported to be "quite large".



México (& southern Arizona, USA?)


Biology & Ecology




RMNH 110.098 (adult, male)








Original scientific description:

(Gould) 1832 Proc.Zool.Soc.London Pt2 no.21 p.140

Other references:

Anmarkrud, Jarl Andreas and Lifjeld, Jan T. (In Press, 2016). Complete mitochondrial genomes of eleven extinct or possibly extinct bird species. Molecular Ecology Resources. DOI: 10.1111/1755-0998.12600 [Abstract]

Bird, J.P., Martin, R., Akçakaya, H.R., Gilroy, J., Burfield, I.J., Garnett, S.G., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Şekercioğlu, Ç.H. and Butchart, S.H.M. 2020. Generation lengths of the world’s birds and their implications for extinction risk. Conservation Biology 34(5): 1252-1261.

BirdLife International. (2012). Campephilus imperialis. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. ( Downloaded on 19 August 2012.

BirdLife International. 2020. Campephilus imperialis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T22681417A179185354. Accessed on 06 July 2022.

Butchart, Stuart H. M., Stattersfield, A. J. and Brooks, T. M. (2006). Going or gone: defining ‘Possibly Extinct’ species to give a truer picture of recent extinctions. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 126A: 7-24.

Ceballos, Gerardo, Ehrlich, Anne H. and Ehrlich, Paul R. (2015).  The Annihilation of Nature: Human Extinction of Birds and Mammals. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Collar, N.J., Gonzaga, L.P., Krabbe, N., Madroño Nieto, A., Naranjo, L.G., Parker, T.A. and Wege, D.C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Fleischer, Robert C. et al. (2006). Mid-Pleistocene divergence of Cuban and North American ivory-billed woodpeckers. Biology Letters 2: 466-469.

Fuller, Errol. (2013). Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Greenway J.C., Jr., 1967: Extinct and vanishing birds of the world. 2nd rev. ed. New York: Dover Publications, xvi + 520 pp.

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

Knox, Alan G. and Walters, Michael P. (1994). Extinct and endangered birds in the collections of The Natural History Museum. British Ornithologists' Club Occasional Publications 1: 1-292. [pp. 183-184]

Lammertink, M.; Gallagher, T. W.; Rosenberg, K. V.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Liner, E.; Rojas-Tomé, J.; Escalante, P. (2011). Film documentation of the probably Extinct Imperial Woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis). The Auk 128(4): 671-677.

Lammertink, J. M., Rojas-Tomé, J. A., Casillas(-?)Orona, F. M. & Otto, R. L. (1996) Status and conservation of old-growth forests and endemic birds in the pine–oak zone of the Sierra Madre Occidental. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.

Prŷs-Jones, Robert P., Manegold, Albrecht and White, Judith. (2021). The conundrum of an overlooked skeleton referable to Imperial Woodpecker Campephilus imperialis in the collection of the Natural History Museum at Tring. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 141(1): 66-74.

Short, Lester L. (1982). Woodpeckers of the World. Greenville: Delaware Museum of Natural History. 676 pp. [relevant reference?]

Mendenhall, M. (2005). Old friend missing. Is the larger, grander cousin of our Ivory-billed Woodpecker—the Imperial Woodpecker—still flying in western Mexico? Birder’s World 19: 35-39.

Mittermeier, John C. et al. (2022). Fantastic lost birds and how you can help find them: an updated gap analysis for the Neotropical avifauna. Neotropical Birding 31: 25-32.

Mlíkovský, Jiří. (2012). Extinct and nearly extinct birds in the collections of the National Museum, Prague, Czech Republic. Journal of the National Museum (Prague), Natural History Series 181(9): 95-123. [automatic download]

Nelson, E. W. (1898). The Imperial Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, Campephilus imperialis (Gould). The Auk 15(3): 217-223.

Otto, R. 2003. Threatened wildlife and old-growth forest survey of the Arroyo Durango, Sierra Madre Occidental, Mexico.

Plimpton, G. (1977) Un gran pedazo de carne. Audubon Mag. 79 (6): 10-25.

Prys-Jones, R. P. (2011). Type of the Imperial Woodpecker Campephilus imperialis (Gould, 1832). Bull. B.O.C. 131(4): 256-260.

Ridgway, Robert. (1887). The Imperial Woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis) in Northern Sonora. The Auk 4(2): 161.

Tanner, James T. (1964). The Decline and Present Status of the Imperial Woodpecker of Mexico. The Auk 81(1): 74-81.

Tobias, Joseph A., Butchart, Stuart H. M. and Collar, Nigel J. (2006). Lost and found: a gap analysis for the Neotropical avifauna. Neotropical Birding [2006]: 4-22.

Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. and Sharpe, C.J. 2015. Imperial Woodpecker (Campephilus imperialis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. and de Juana, E. (eds), Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive, Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.


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