Melanerpes lewis
(Lewis' Woodpecker)


Order: Piciformes
Order Description: Woodpeckers
Family: Picidae
Family Description: Woodpeckers

Physical Description:
10 1/2-11 1/2" (27-29 cm). A large, dark woodpecker, slightly smaller than a flicker. Metallic greenish-black back, head, and tail; collar and breast gray, pinkish-red belly; dark red face patch framed with greenish black. Sexes look alike. Immatures duller; lack red face and gray collar; have less extensive red below.

Song:
Usually silent; it occasionally gives a low, harsh churring note or a series of harsh churr notes.

Distribution:
Breeds from southwestern Canada, Montana, and southern Great Plains states, south to south-central California, central Arizona, southern New Mexico, and eastern Colorado. Winters mainly from northern Oregon, southern Idaho, central Colorado, and south-central Nebraska, south irregularly to northern Mexico, southern New Mexico, and western Texas.

Habitat:
Found in open forests and woodlands (often logged or burned), including oak, coniferousClick word for definition forests (primarily ponderosa pine), and riparian woodlands and orchards.

Diet:
Feeds mainly on insects (e.g., ants, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, tent caterpillars). Also eats fruits and nuts.

Ecology:
Nests in cavity in tree, frequently on dead limb; may nest on pole. Catches prey in air; also drops from perch to capture prey on ground. Stores nuts in natural cavities for use in non-breeding season. May damage orchard crops. Primarily uses cavities excavated by other species.

Reproduction:
Pair forms life-long bond. Both sexes incubateClick word for definition 5-9 eggs (usually 6-7), for 13-14 days. Young are capable of first flight 28-34 days after hatching.

Conservation:
Element Code: ABNYF04010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G4
State Rank: S4,NTMB
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
Saab, V.A. and J. Dudley. 1995. Nest usurpation and cavity use by Lewis' Woodpecker. USDA Forest Service Inter. Res. Sta. Rep., Boise. 13pp.


Photos by C Trost and Luther Goldman,© 1999
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.