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GAP Analysis Predicted Distribution Map

Lewis' Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)

Species Code: MELE

This is an "at risk" species

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Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only.
© NatureMapping Program

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Predicted breeding range

= Core Habitat
= Marginal Habitat


Lewis woodpeckerphoto

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Breeding Range Map
The green area shows the predicted habitats for breeding only. The habitats were identified using 1991 satellite imagery, Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA), other datasets and experts throughout the state, as part of the Washington Gap Analysis Project. Habitats used during non-breeding months and migratory rest-stops were not mapped.

NatureMapping observations map   Map with Breeding 
Bird Atlas records
Observations | Historic Gap points

Metadata (Data about data or how the map was made)


This species is common in open forests and woody riparian corridors of eastern Washington in the Ponderosa Pine zone and below, especially in Garry Oak groves. In the Columbia Basin, most are found near the transition between Ponderosa Pine and sagebrush at the lower treeline. They are a local and uncommon breeder in the central Columbia Basin, and east of the Columbia River in Stevens County.

Good habitat in core areas of use included all open forests in forested zones, all forests in steppe zones, and riparian corridors, in the Interior Douglas-fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Oaks zones, in the Grand Fir zone in the Blue Mountains, and in steppe zones along the lower treeline.

Lewis' Woodpeckers were once fairly common in western Washington, invading burns and utilizing prairie habitats. Several sites have been listed where this birds has been recorded during the breeding season: Blaine, Bellingham, Cathlamet, Vancouver, Carson, the Olympic Peninsula, Ocosta, Long Beach, Redmond, and Kirkland. In 1987 they were recorded as a former uncommon breeder in the San Juan Islands, but now a rare migrant or winter visitor. Modern forest-management practices have replaced the natural pattern of burns in western Washington forests with cuts, and nest-site competition has increased with the invasion of the European Starling. These events have virtually eliminated Lewis' Woodpeckers from western Washington, where they are now a rare species with no known breeding records. In eastern Washington, this species is mostly restricted to the transition zone between the Ponderosa Pine forests and sagebrush zones, where it utilizes the large hardwood groves found along riparian corridors. Away from this transition zone, in the central Columbia Basin, Lewis' Woodpecker are scarce. Little evidence of nesting is known from this area, though a pair was seen several times in a riparian grove six miles northwest of Ephrata in Douglas County, during the entire breeding season in 1992, and again in May 1995. To the northeast, in Stevens, Pend Oreille, and Lincoln Counties, this species is an uncommon breeder. In Spokane County, where it was formerly common, starling competition and habitat destruction have reduced numbers drastically. Similar conditions have caused the extirpation of Lewis' Woodpeckers in most of Walla Walla County, and possibly in Columbia County. Records in Asotin County may indicate a lingering breeding population in the Blue Mountains region. Experts consider Lewis' Woodpecker to be a summer resident in stream-side habitats in the Blue Mountains.

Translated from the Washington Gap Analysis Bird Volume by Uchenna Bright
Text edited by Gussie Litwer
Webpage designed by Dave Lester