We live at Oak Creek, in Ventura County, California, and usually this year when we step outside the sound we hear is the sound of the creek, Sisar Creek, on its long journey down from the Topa Topa range, at 6400 feet, to the sea.
This year we never did get the ten inches of rain it takes to get the creek flowing.
I miss the water. But in its absence, I have heard a sound I never heard before.
I heard it first a few weeks ago, when after finishing the week’s labors I went outside, exhausted, and simply sat in the sun for a time. I heard a little warbly flutter in the trees, watery and quick, briefly up and down the scale of a little wind instrument. I looked for the bird, but couldn’t find it. Today outside I happened to hear a bird pecking lightly but persistently at a high branch, and heard the little sound again, and found its maker.
Although from my angle I didn’t see the pinkish breast described here, its wings were entirely black, which the USGS says distinguishes it from every other woodpecker in the U.S. And I heard it clearly, and you can too, thanks to the amazing site maintained by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
I think it’s the Lewis’s Woodpecker, named after Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame. It’s on Audubon’s endangered Watchlist.