He has a barbed tongue for snagging insects from holes in trees. He has two toes facing forward and two facing backward, like all woodpeckers. His stiff tail feathers make it possible for him to lean his tail along a tree trunk to climb erect. He can drill a hole through wood as well as any of his cousins. Still one gets the impression that the Lewis’s woodpecker is distinctly trying NOT to be a woodpecker.

This woodpecker’s namesake, Meriwether Lewis made famous by his expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase with William Clark, commented in his journal that this woodpecker flies “a good deal like a jay bird”.  This woodpecker doesn’t pound out holes in trees to harvest insects or sap. The Lewis’s Woodpecker prefers to hunt by what’s called “hawking”. This bird, which is adapted to cling to the sides of trees and penetrate their bark with hammering blows, catches insects on the wing. He also delicately gleans insects from the ground or from the surface of the bark. He’ll gather nuts and berries too, and, on occasion, he will find natural crevices in the bark and probe those.

It’s hard to comprehend tens of thousands of years of evolution bringing this bird to it’s stunning form as a woodpecker then to have that form employed for occupations other than, well, woodpecking. If the Lewis’s woodpecker spirit animal has flown its beautiful self into your life you are being asked to let go of how familial or societal norms have shaped you. Clearly if this woodpecker can adapt his awkward climbing body to ballet-style flight and make a living doing it, there is no need for you to conform. Let go of the belief that your creativity is limited by what you are. This simply is not the truth.

This absolutely stunning, rosy chested woodpecker has a black back that glimmers the deepest shade of emerald green in the sunlight. The sweetest color of red covers the sides of his face and clean lines create a collar of grey feathers about his neck. This bird resonates with the deep nature of his forested environment and emanates true, heart-centered compassion from his being. Merge with this love, and know what it feels like to love without judgement in a way that overlaps with professionalism and confidence. A perfect companion for business dealings, this monogamous woodpecker is clear in his partnerships and exemplifies how creativity and duty meet for beneficial ends.

It is interesting that like his cousin the acorn woodpecker, the Lewis’s woodpecker will stash acorns in holes in trees, but the acorn woodpecker drills holes to fit the acorn. The Lewis’s woodpecker re-shapes the acorn to fit natural crevices. This, again, shows how the Lewis’s woodpecker is willing to adapt his resources and his character to match his world, rather than manipulate the world to his needs. This is the power of a true artist, one who flows with his form and that of his environment to accent the power around him rather than play the engineer who strives to perfect.

That this bird is named after a famous explorer tasked with mapping the resources of a newly purchased territory is no cosmic mistake. In asking about the meaning of woodpecker, you are being asked to take a gliding, relaxed flight through the unmapped territories of your world and see the resources available to you. Don’t look for imperfections or weaknesses in other people, things, or yourself. Ask, “what is stunning here that I am drawn to work with?” In this way you will find that you don’t have to awkwardly think your way through using the resources available to you. You don’t need to go through the task of creating more opportunities. All you need to do is open your creative heart with confidence and come into alignment with the deep abundance of the forest about you.

Note: I’ve been largely writing lately about animals others have encountered, but this lovely little beast kept crossing my path on my drive too and from work. The other day as he crossed just in front of my windshield I spontaneously felt his energy cross through my soul. It’s one of those callings you can’t dismiss and I hope you find some resonance as well with this sweet expression of the Divine.