Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


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Mollhoff in Nebraska Bird Review (June 2000) 68(2). Copyright 2000, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


Lewis's Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) was first mentioned as a possible breeder in Nebraska by Bruner (1901), who included it in a list of birds that breed in the state. None of the authorities he cited, however, had published conclusive evidence of breeding, and one of them (Bates 1900) cited only a winter record.

The species was mentioned in reports from the University of Nebraska field parties that worked in the Pine Ridge in 1900 and 1901. Crawford (1901) reports the discovery of only a single empty nest, despite weeks of fieldwork concentrated specifically on gathering nesting data on western species found in Nebraska's Pine Ridge. The nest which they reported was investigated between 18 May and 1 June 1900. It was "found about 60 feet from the ground in a dead tree, but contained no eggs. This same tree yielded a set of five Sparrow Hawk's eggs." He did not mention whether the nest was visited at a later date for proof of breeding. This remarkable absence of· nesting data might be explained in part because the species frequently chooses the tallest available dead pine snag for a nest site, a site dangerous to visit under the best of conditions, and usually difficult or impossible to reach without specialized tree climbing equipment.