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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.