With their hard, pointed beaks, incredibly long tongues and thick, shock-absorbing skulls (one wonders why they are not brain-damaged), woodpeckers are well adapted for excavating cavities for nesting and roosting, territorial drumming, and hunting for insects and sap. Woodpeckers are made for tree living with their sharp pointed claws aiding them in scaling up and down trees. They have a short, stiff tail that helps prop them up when they are climbing. They are one of the most fascinating birds to watch.
Woodpeckers play an important role in the health of our forests. Abandoned cavities are used by a variety of other birds and the process of drilling and chipping for food and shelter also contributes to the necessary decomposition of dead trees.
As seen in 5/12 Blog I recently added the lovely White-headed W.P. to my list (WA). In my travels to Arizona I have seen the Gila, Strickland's and Arizona W.P., and Gilded Flicker and Red-naped Sapsucker. In California there are the Acorn and Nuttal's W.P. and Williamson's Sapsucker; in Texas the Ladded-backed & Gold-fronted and in CT the Red-headed and Red-bellied W.P. and the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.
So now? Who else is out there? After Labor Day I will be setting out with birding friends to the Okanogan areas of WA and Canada to try and find the Black-backed Woodpecker and the Three-toed Woodpecker, two of our most northern birds and the elusive Lewis' WP.
|Black-backed WP- Tom Munson|
One of the largest species of American woodpeckers, Lewis's Woodpecker can be as large as 10 to 11 inches in length. It is mainly reddish-breasted, blackish-green in color with a black rump. It has a gray collar and upper breast, with a pinkish belly, and a red face. The wings are much broader than those of other woodpeckers, and it flies at a much more sluggish pace with slow, but even flaps similar to those of a crow.
Unlike other American woodpeckers, it enjoys sitting in the open as opposed to sitting in heavy tree cover. Lewis's woodpecker engages in some rather un-woodpecker-like behavior in its gregarious feeding habits. Although it does forage for insects by boring into trees with its chisel-like bill, the bird also catches insects in the air during flight, a habit that only a few other woodpeckers indulge in. It will be easier to identify- it does not have a yellow top!
|Lewis' WP in full glory|