Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Meriwether Lewis' Woodpecker

Wednesday, November 22, 2006
One of the quest birds for this trip was the Lewis' woodpecker, first collected by and named for Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame. We had a tip that they were findable in Chalma, NM about 90 miles northwest of Taos, but we did not really want to burn a whole day driving to and from there, so I got online and did a Google search for: Lewis' woodpecker, Taos. What I got was a link to a local birding guide's website: New Mexico Birdwatching. Ryan Besser of New Mexico Birdwatching was kind enough to give me directions to a local spot where he'd seen the Lewis' about a year ago.

I promised to let him know if we found the birds, and to share his contact info with you all via my blog as a thank you for sharing his inside birding info.

The Lewis' woodpecker is an odd bird. It's our only pink and green bird. It flies more like a crow than a woodpecker. And it never seems to sit still--constantly flying out in flycatching sorties, shifting positions, scooting from tree to tree. I saw my first and only Lewis' woodpecker years ago in Lucketts, Virginia--a vagrant from the West that stuck around for an entire winter.

So I was almost as eager as JZ to see this very interesting bird. Here's how the day rolled out:

We lit out from our house about 11 am headed for Arroyo Seco, a small, charming village northeast of Taos. Ryan's directions sent us up to the base of the foothills, along a dirt road. "Stop past the cattle grate and check out the cottonwoods to the right." We did this and saw several starlings and a red-shafted flicker. Oh well, the sighting was a year old and birds have wings after least we tried.

Just as we were about to drive farther along the road, I saw a Lewis' perched dead ahead. Zick got her lifer. We high-fived all around and sent massive thank-you vibes to Ryan. Then we noticed that there were at least four Lewis' around the grove of cottonwoods. We got lots of great, if short, looks. Our friends drove up in their car and everyone got at least one scope view of a perched Lewis'.
Sometimes these long-shot quests work out just the way you hope they will. Thanks Ryan! And thanks Meriwether! Your woodpecker totally rocks!

This morning we're going back so Jules can sketch the birds for a spell. Sorry but this is the only image Blogger would take from me this morning. I'll try to augment this post later, if the Web gods cooperate.


On November 22, 2006 at 1:21 PM mon@rch said...

Such amazing colors in this Woodpecker! A bird I could only dream about seeing! High Five to you!

On November 22, 2006 at 3:48 PM Rondeau Ric said...

Wooohooo... do the dance jz

On November 24, 2006 at 9:37 PM Doc said...


Why don't you try Google Picasa for posting your pictures on the blog. You may have better luck.