Tuesday, 3 February 2015

B.O.T.D. Lewis' Woodpecker

B.O.T.D. Feb 3 2015

Lewis' Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)

From a  perch astride a fence post a greenish-black bird with a deep crimson face and reddish belly sweeps forth to catch a mayfly on the wing. Judging by its graceful and steady movement through the air, the uninitiated might guess it's a small crow or possibly a kingbird. Actually, it's a Lewis' Woodpecker, whose typical feeding habits during the summer are very un-woodpecker-like. Instead of hitching up the trunks of trees, then chipping got the bark or chiseling into the wood in search of beetles, the Lewis' spends most of its time hawking insects - a habit shared by only one other woodpecker; the red-headed.

The Lewis' has other characteristics that set it apart. Alone among our woodpeckers, it makes a habit of sitting on wires and other perches out in the open, and it is the only one with unmarked, dark wings and tail. Its flight too - unlike the undulating pattern of other woodpeckers - is a floating, effortless glide.

This unusual bird was named for Meriwether Lewis, who with William Clark in 1804-1806 led an expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific coast to explore the area of the Louisiana Purchase. Their efforts produced a wealth of information about the region - not least, perhaps, the discovery of a singular woodpecker.

Link: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lewiss_Woodpecker/id