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Birds of the Western Slope May 18, 2016

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Photo by Bill Schmoker

Lewis' Woodpecker

I'm looking out of our front window ... And here's Lewis. I usually call this bird "Lewis" although know that it is properly, Lewis' Woodpecker. It's named for Captain Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis & Clark Expedition which started in May 1804 and lasted until September 1806. President Thomas Jefferson appointed the group to map the area, collect flora and fauna and to make the United States presence obvious before British and other European powers could lay claim to it.

And my woodpecker makes his presence known by his territorial display. He perches in the west cottonwood, flies out over the road, swings back across our lawn, and returns to the west cottonwood, but not to the same point of his original perch. Now he pecks rapidly (drums), cleans the bill with a rapid back and forth movement. Now he calls repeatedly. It sounds like several "cr ... cr ... cr ..." to me, but it is NOT a pretty sound! Then he sits quietly for a few moments, and sallies forth again in his display.

But we have company. A white van stops along the road in front of our house ... birders! Three people get out with binoculars and one has a spotting scope. And now two more cars arrive plus one van. The birders all pile out. I love to watch this scene, for these folks are interested in the birds! They point and gesture and Lewis sits on his perch watching them. Allen and I have joked about this behavior ... if they would just offer the bird a tidbit they might have better luck!

The other evening there was a posting on Western Slope Bird Net about this bird being seen (a pair of them) in the Paonia area. I'm always glad to find such information on wsbsn where I've found many birds, including our cranes. We've had reports from northern Colorado (around Craig and Meeker) and from as far south as Durango. And it does give me a sense of where our cranes may be, as well as other birds. But the show is over. All of the birders climb back into their vehicles and head toward Highway 65.

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Surface Creek
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Birds of the Western Slope, Evelyn Horn
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