Bird ID: IBWO vs. Pileated

There has been a great discussion going on about the status of the IBWO based on my poll for this month. BTW, this month's poll already has 27 votes in the bag with plenty of time to go. I have given some of my opinions during the discussion, but I have used this blog primarily as a way to force me to learn more about the natural world and this topic has definitely done that. Based on the fact that most of the woodpecker sightings in the study area would be of a bird in flight I wanted to see how similar the Pileated and the IBWO are in flight. The two pictures below are copyright of Whatbird.com and I am borrowing them for illustration purposes only. Another side note: Whatbird.com is an awesome sight to use as a supplemental bird ID source.

What struck me about the two birds is that they are in fact very similar looking. Yes there is the white trailing wings on the IBWO, the stripe down the back and the light bill, but would the average person really see that when they casually saw the bird in flight? Also bear in mind that the Pileated does have white on its wings and given the right (or wrong) angle these may appear to be trailing. Also bear in mind that the size difference between the two is not that massive. In fact the IBWO is slighter bigger in size, but substantially heavier (making it appear bulky). Don't get me wrong, these illustrations can be used to make the case either way. What do you think? Are you confident that you could make the ID call while jumping around in treacherous swamp land? If you're interested in reading more here is a great comparison of the two check this out.


Pixel-Pixie said...

I'm a natural optimist so I like to think this bird DOES still exist.

Tanya (in Kenya)

Island Rambles Blog said...

This was really fun to read...I had always hoped that the IBWO did still exist and I had posted my pictures of a Pileated. The Pileated is quite large and smart...I wonder if I will ever see a IBWO. What if I walked right by one thinking it was a Pileated.