I have casually been watching for the Lewis’s Woodpecker and saw it two days ago, a little over two weeks later than those seen last year.
Birds have their niches. Some are adapted to water, some just to shorelines. Some want grassland, some thrive amongst trees. So, a forested land, such as around Kootenay Lake, may not appeal to those who thrive in a more open country.
Consider the Black-billed Magpie. This is a somewhat common resident to the west of the Great Lakes. Yet around here, where it is highly forested, they are few in number and largely confined to a small region where there is the desired open country with a few trees. For us, the magpie is uncommon.
Then there is the Lewis’s Woodpecker. It is blue-listed, which means that it is threatened — and that is based on the populated regions of which Kootenay Lake doesn’t rate. It is known in parts of southern B.C., see A Nest of a Lewis’s Woodpecker, but the reference maps just don’t include us for we get only a handful some years. Last year, there were maybe a half-dozen; this year, there seem to be two (and they are late). Not only does this bird like the open terrain with a few trees that the magpie does, but it sends few breeders this far north. For us, it is a rare bird.
I will start with two old images to set the stage for the two combatants. The first is the Black-billed Magpie.
The second is the Lewis’s Woodpecker.
The first time I saw the Lewis’s Woodpecker this year, it was high, small and distant. Alas, thereafter, it was even farther.
There are two Lewis’s in the scene. The one on the right is on a branch that apparently has something to eat in the top of it — something that the attacking magpie had previously figured belonged to it. This is the first of three attacks. After the magpie failed to drive off the Lewis’s, it temporarily retired to an adjacent branch.
On the second try, the magpie came after the Lewis’s Woodpecker which had climbed to the food. The magpie was again unsuccessful when the woodpecker fought back, and so it retreated.
On the third and last try, the Lewis’s stayed firm and the magpie retreated for good.