Backyard Birds

Lewis’s Woodpeckers

The Lewis’s Woodpecker Lewis (Melanerpes lewis) is one of the largest American woodpeckers.

Distribution / Range

It occurs naturally in the western to central United States. However, it may winter as far south as the US border with Mexico and summer as far north as Canada.

The Lewis’s Woodpecker is locally common, favoring open pine woodlands, and other areas with scattered trees.


They can be as large as 10 to 11 inches in length. The wings are broader than those of other woodpeckers. The plumage is mainly a blackish-green with a black rump. It has a grey collar and upper breast; a pinkish belly and a red face.


They forage for insects by boring into trees with its chisel-like bill, but also catch insects in the air during flight. They also feed on berries and nuts, and will even shell and store nuts in cracks and holes in wood to store them until winter.

Nesting / Breeding:

They nests in cavities excavated from dead tree branchs. The male is the one responsible for nest construction. The female lays between 5 and 9 white eggs. Both parents share the incubation duties, with the male sitting at night and the female incubating during the day. The incubation period lasts for about 12 days.

The young will fledge about 4 to 5 weeks after hatching.

Build-your-self Woodworking Instructions for a Lewis Woodpecker Bird House

Member of the Picidae Family: WoodpeckersSapsuckersFlickers


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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