Woodpeckers belong to the order Piciformes that comprises nine families of largely arboreal birds. Though largely insectivorous, some species eat fruits and the honeyguides are unique in the bird world as they are able to digest beeswax. These birds generally live in the wild and in forested areas. These places may be far from human civilization, but somehow, manâ€™s ways have extensive reach, enough to endanger some of them.
The International Union for Conservative Nature or IUCN has listed four birds under the order Piciformes which are classified as Critically Endangered. This means that they face the greatest risk of extinction. Here the four species of woodpeckers identified as Critically Endangered:
If not extinct, the Imperial Woodpecker is the worldâ€™s largest woodpecker species at 56-60 cm (22-24 in) long. The bird is found in Mexico where it is known in many names like cuauhtotomomi, uagam, and cumecocari. The male is largely black, except for its white-tipped inner primaries. It also has a red-sided crust. The female is similar in appearance to the male, except for its crest that is black and recurved at the top. The bird feeds mainly by scaling bark from dead pine trees and feeding on the insect larvae found underneath.
The last confirmed report of imperial woodpecker was of one female in Durango in 1956. Last October 2011, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology released an 85-second colored version of the film showing the bird foraging for insects on several giant pines.
Given the lack of any more confirmed sightings and the near total destruction of its original habitat, the imperial woodpecker is believed to be extinct. However, recent studies have concluded that the species indeed survived into the 1990s.
The ivory-billed woodpecker is another large woodpecker with a length of 20 inches and wingspan of 30 inches. It is native to the forests of southeastern United States. The bird is shiny blue-black with white markings on its neck and back and extensive white on the trailing edge of both the upper- and underwing. The crest is black in juveniles and females. In males, the crest is black along its forward edge, changing abruptly to red on the side and rear. The Ivory-billed Woodpecker is sometimes referred to as the Grail Bird, the Lord God Bird, or the Good God Bird.
Threats to the bird include habitat destruction and hunting. There were reported sightings of the bird in Florida and Arkansas in the recent years; however, the absence of evidences like photographs, videos or DNA samples made the reports inconclusive.
Also known as Piaui Woodpecker, the Kaempferâ€™s Woodpecker is a bird from Brazil. It has a total length of about 24 centimeters (9Ð’Ð… in). The head and remiges are mainly rufous-chestnut, the underparts and back are buff, the wing-coverts are barred in black and buff and the chest and tail are uniform black. The male has a red malar and mottling on its crest. Kaempferâ€™s woodpecker has a typical woodpecker build, with a powerful and stocky body, a strong, pointed bill that is adapted to hacking and chiselling at tree trunks, and a long, protractible tongue, armed with barbs to catch and extract insects from crevices. The feet are similarly adapted to its climbing lifestyle, with two toes pointing forwards and two back, a characteristic that allows Kaempferâ€™s woodpecker to climb with ease
The bird was believed to be extinct until a male was captured by Advaldo Dias do Prado during mist netting in 2006 in the state of Tocantins. Since then, it has been recorded at multiple sites in the state.
The Okinawa Woodpecker is a brid endemic to the island of Okinawa, Japan. This is a medium-sized (31Ð’Â cm), dark woodpecker. It is dark brown in color with red-tipped feathers. It has white spots on the primaries. The head is a paler brown, with a dark red crown on the male and a blackish-brown one on the female.
The bird has a single tiny, declining population which is threatened by habitat loss of mature forest due to logging, dam construction, agriculture, military and golf course developments. A major problem now is that one of their main habitats are being destroyed. The current population is estimated at less than 600.
Other lists of critically endangered animals: Ten Critically Endangered Parrots, Ten Critically Endangered Eagles and Vultures, Worldâ€™s Critically Endangered Spiders, Nine Critically Endangered Pigeons and Doves, Critically Endangered Hummingbirds