Family Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Least Concern

Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)


French: Pic de Lewis German: Blutgesichtsspecht Spanish: Carpintero de Lewis

Picus Lewis

G. R. Gray

, 1849,

no locality = Montana, USA


Rather distinctive; sometimes placed in monotypic genus Asyndesmus, but shows many similarities to typical Melanerpes. Skull morphology indicates close relationship to M. erythrocephalus and M. formicivorus#R. Monotypic.


Coastal ranges and foothills of Rocky Mts from S British Columbia S to Arizona and New Mexico, E to W South Dakota, Wyoming and SE Colorado; in winter mostly in S parts of range.

Descriptive notes

c. 26–29 cm; 85–138 g. Small to medium-sized woodpecker, unmista­kable; flies with slow wingbeats in straight line, not undulating, appears very dark. Both... read more


Series of short, rather loud and harsh “churr” calls, usually 3–8 in quick... read more


Breeds in open habitats with some dead trees with decayed wood for nesting, and with rich food... read more

Food and feeding

In spring and summer, various insects, especially ants and other Hymenoptera, also beetles, Orthoptera (mainly Tettigoniidae); also fruits... read more


Apr–Sept, mostly May–Jul; breeds 1–3 weeks later in S of range or at low altitudes than in N or uplands. Apparently... read more


Mostly migratory. Because of marked seasonal changes in diet, has to move variable distances to non... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon or rare. No figures for total population size; estimated 700–1200 breeding birds in British Columbia in 1990.... read more

Recommended citation

Winkler, H., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2018). Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 March 2018).