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All About: Lewis's Woodpecker

The Lewis's Woodpecker forages like a flycatcher and flies like a crow. It is a very distinctive bird with its unique rosy pink belly, silver 'necklace' and shiny dark green back. They can be seen in the summer perching on bare branches and telephone poles in the Okanagan and Similkameen valleys.


Despite their name, Lewis's Woodpeckers don't excavate their own nesting cavities, instead recycling holes and cavities created by other wood-peckers or created naturally in dead and decaying trees (snags). They rely on open Ponderosa Pine forests and Black Cottonwood riparian forests.

In the spring and summer, they eat mostly flying insects but will switch to nuts and berries in the fall and winter when insects are scarce. Lewis's Woodpeckers rarely spend the winter in Canada, preferring to migrate south to the American southwest


The Lewis's Woodpecker is federally listed as Threatened and is also found on the provincial Blue List. This means that it is very likely to become an Endangered species unless we address the threats to their populations.

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Estimated decline of Lewis's Woodpecker populations between 1970 and 2014*


Why are Lewis's Woodpeckers at risk?

  • Felling of large, standing decaying trees (snags); these are potential nesting and perching sites.

  • Loss of habitat, especially open Ponderosa pine woodlands and riparian forests.

  • Netting around vineyards could be a serious source of mortality in late summer.

  • Use of insecticides in orchards and gardens may reduce insect population.

  • Competition with invasive species like European Starlings for nest sites.

  • Fire supression and in-growth, resulting in dense forests  that lack the open forest structure required for insect-hunting.

*Partners in Flight

You can Help!

  • Avoid any human disturbance at nest sites during the spring and summer

  • Retain open Ponderosa Pine forests and Black Cottonwood stands.

  • Protect known nest sites.

  • Maintain dead or dying standing trees especially soft, large diameter snags.

  • Eliminate pesticide use where possible in order to maintain insect populations

  • Ensure agricultural netting is kept tight and monitored regularly.

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