Cornell releases rare images of extinct woodpecker

The giant imperial woodpecker is believed to be long extinct, but scientists are now able to study the majestic bird's foraging behavior and flight pattern in a rare segment of film discovered by Cornell University researchers.

The 1956 film is the only known photographic image of the 2-foot-tall bird in the wild. It was released to the public Wednesday on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website.

The film was shot by an amateur ornithologist in Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental. A Cornell woodpecker specialist learned of the 85-second film through an old letter in Cornell's archives and tracked it down.

Cornell researchers published a paper about the finding in this month's issue of The Auk, the journal of the American Ornithologist's Union.