Lewis’s Woodpecker

Lewis's Woodpecker, Cabin Lake Viewing Blinds, Deschutes National Forest, Near Fort Rock, Oregon

Last COSEWIC designation: November 2001
SARA risk category: Special Concern

Description: Lewis’s Woodpecker is a medium-sized (26-28 cm) woodpecker with greenish-black head, back, wings, and tail, and a distinctive pinkish-red belly. It has a dark red face patch and prominent silvery gray collar and upper breast.

Habitat: The most common breeding habitats of Lewis’s Woodpecker are open, mature ponderosa pine forests; riparian black cottonwood stands adjacent to open areas; and recently logged or burned coniferous forests with standing snags. Essential habitat features are large, standing dead or dying trees (snags) for nesting cavities, and relatively open areas for feeding. Suitable breeding habitat in Canada is restricted to lower mountain slopes and valley bottoms in southern interior British Columbia.

Threats: Widespread clearing of ponderosa pine forests is likely responsible for much of the species’ decline in this century. Fire suppression in ponderosa pine forests is common practice in the province, and results in the development of dense stands which are entirely unsuitable for Lewis’s Woodpecker. Management of these forests will be the main factor in deciding the future of the species in Canada.