Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Lewis's Woodpecker at Stonewall Mine

There have been reports of this species from the past four to five months near Stonewall Mine in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park on eBird. Perhaps it is the same individual or individuals wintering here, or not. There's no way to tell for sure.

I decided that it would be nice to see one of these uncommon birds and get it on my year list, so I drove over to Stonewall Mine to try to find it. I saw one individual well, and a possible second bird near the first. The single bird that was easily observed was fly-catching from perches in one large pine, and at one point pecked in between the scales of two different Jeffrey Pine female cones. The literature reports low percentages of "seeds" in the diet of these birds, so I thought it would be interesting to show the imperfect images I captured of this behavior - taken from quite a distance away.

Here is an image of the pine, right in the middle of the frame:

Jeffrey Pine favored by Lewis's Woodpecker, late morning, Feb. 8, 2020
 Below are images of the bird pecking one pine cone, then flying to a second, and then perched over the second. The three most likely explanations for the behavior to me are either consumption of the pine seeds, or searching for/consumption of insects hiding in the cone. Consumption of sap seems much less likely as the literature indicates that sap is not a significant component of this species' diet.

Lewis's Woodpecker and pine cone.

Flying to second cone.

Perched over second cone.

These are beautiful birds and it's a treat to see them living their lives here in our local piny woods.

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