Lewis’s Woodpecker


In the southeastern portion of the province for a few months in the summertime, one gets a small population of a strange bird. A few Lewis’s Woodpeckers have arrived to breed.

The Lewis’s Woodpecker lives year-round in the southwestern US, but come summer, a small number head far north to breed here. In years of birding, I have only seen it here twice and on those occasions, it was high in trees a long way off. This year, I discovered a small population, and visited it repeatedly with my grandson, Finn. As before, it was high in trees and was significantly difficult to photograph. 

Underscoring the oddness of this bird, All About Birds says: “The Lewis’s Woodpecker might have woodpecker in its name, but it forages like a flycatcher and flies like a crow. It has a color palette all its own, with a pink belly, gray collar, and dark green back unlike any other member of its family. From bare branches and posts, it grabs insects in midair, flying with slow and deep wingbeats.”  

The adult Lewis’s Woodpecker has a pinkish face and belly.

Its back and wings have a dark (greenish) sheen. There is a greyish band around its neck.

It would spend a great deal of time in snags, both flying out to catch bypassing insects and looking for insects in the wood. Picture by Finn Grathwol.

The reddish colour is missing from the juveniles.

The most spectacular picture of it flying after insects was captured by Finn.


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7 Responses to Lewis’s Woodpecker

  1. Tom says:

    Is this the punk rocker of the avian world? Great images.

  2. Mandy Bath says:

    We saw them last June in Grand Forks in cottonwood trees beside the river. We hope the city retained those trees within the new dyke system to prevent flooding.

    • Jacki says:

      There are no trees left. Someone in their wisdom decided to put up a horrible ugly metal fence to restrain the river, and cut down every single tree. Disgraceful!

  3. David Sibling says:

    At least this woodpecker is not called something that it is not: called Downy when not soft, or Hairy when it’s not shaggy. Speaking of odd (and also shy) behavior, how can you beat the Northern Flicker?

  4. Allan Hobden says:

    Great `pic taking you two!!..and interesting…did not know..of course there is much I don`t know..


  5. Lorna Surina says:

    Amazing pictures. Congratulations to both of you. You have been blessed!

  6. Karren Dixon says:

    Your website is awesome. I love the photos and all the info that you have added to them. I especially liked the bears and Lewis Woodpeckers as we have both where I live.

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