Land Bird Conservation Plan Colorado  

Executive Summary
Overview of Colorado
Physiographic Region 36
Physiographic Region 62

  • Alpine Tundra
  • Aspen
  • Cliff/Rock
  • High Elevation Riparian
  • Lowland Riparian
  • Mixed Conifer
  • Mountain Shrubland
  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Sagebrush Shrubland
  • Spruce Fir
  • Wetlands

  • Physiographic Region 87
    Implementation Strategies
    Literature Cited

    Physiographic Region 62: Southern Rocky Mountains

    Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)

    Associated Species: Other species that may use this habitat in a similar way and/or respond similarly to threats, management, and conservation activities include American Kestrel, Great Horned Owl, Northern Flicker, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Yellow Warbler, and Bullock's Oriole.

    Distribution: Lewis's Woodpeckers breed from central British Columbia and western Alberta south to northern Mexico, and as far east as eastern Wyoming. In Colorado, Lewis's Woodpeckers reside in the valleys, plains and foothills from 1100 to 2400 m (3,500-8,000 ft) in elevation. The Arkansas River watershed, the pinyon-juniper country of Las Animas and Huerfano counties, and the San Juan Basin hold the largest concentrations. Smaller numbers reside in west-central valleys and plateaus, the edge of the Front Range from Denver to Wyoming, and the Black Forest northeast of Colorado Springs. Many birds that nest at higher elevations and latitudes withdraw to lower elevations and latitudes during the winter.

    Habitat Requirements: Lewis's Woodpeckers breed in riparian forests, agricultural areas and urban areas with scattered, mature cottonwoods, adjacent to areas of low vegetation, such as ungrazed or lightly grazed grasslands, mowed hayfields, or fallow fields.

    Ecology: Lewis's Woodpeckers initiate nesting by late April, and most young leave the nest by the end of July. The diet during the warmer months is largely flying insects, caught on the wing. During colder months, the diet shifts to nuts, grains, and berries.

    Management Issues and Conservation Recommendations: Lewis's Woodpeckers depend upon large trees and snags and are sensitive to disturbance at the nest. Reduce or eliminate activities that degrade the structure and quality of the overstory or understory of riparian systems. Do not permit timber cutting within 30 m (100 ft) of the riparian area. Locate recreational facilities such as roads, trails and campgrounds up, out of riparian areas.

    European Starlings compete for limited nest cavities and limit breeding success of this species in some areas. Research ways to reduce competition from these unprotected, introduced birds.

    Status and Reasons for Concern: Lewis's Woodpeckers are on the national Watch List, indicating a high conservation need throughout their range. They are classified as a Sensitive Species in U.S. Forest Service Region 2. This species is not adequately monitored by the BBS within Physiographic Area 62, and BBS data collected between 1969 and 1996 are too sparse to allow analysis of trend data (n = 10 routes). Lewis's Woodpeckers were present on an average of 4.60% (SE = 1.47) of routes run in Physiographic Area 62 in Colorado, 1988-1997, at an average abundance of 0.16 (SE = 0.06) individuals per route. The mean number of routes run each year was 21.1 (SE = 3.06). This species is monitored by MCB with tracking transects.

    Biological Objective: Maintain or increase the species' distribution and abundance, based upon results of the BBS and MCB monitoring programs.

    Selected References: Andrews and Righter 1992, Kingery 1998, Tobalske 1997, Vierling 1997.

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