Churn Creek Protected Area
Lewis' Woodpecker and California Bighorn Sheep
Lewis' Woodpecker: The Lewis' Woodpecker is medium-sized, with a dark green back and a reddish chest and face. Its preferred habitat in the Churn Creek Protected Area includes grasslands with scattered large diameter trees and riparian cottonwood stands. It usually nests in cavities excavated by other woodpeckers. During the breeding season, it feeds mainly on flying insects which, unlike other woodpeckers, are caught on the wing. Fruits and berries are its main diet in the late summer and fall. The species is frequently seen throughout Churn Creek Protected Area, but is considered threatened (blue listed) in British Columbia due to loss of its grassland habitat.
California Bighorn Sheep: A significant population of California bighorn sheep is found at Churn Creek Protected Area, due to an abundance of suitable habitat in the area. Bighorn sheep are predominantly grazers that rely on grassland habitats. Grasses, sedges, and forbs comprise the majority of their diet, while up to 25% of their diet is shrubs. There are three distinct herds that use the Churn Creek Protected Area. One sub-population uses the grasslands of the Protected Area as winter range and spends summers in the mountains north of Lillooet. The other sub-population spends all year in the Protected Area, moving to lower elevation warm aspects along the Fraser River in winter. Bighorn sheep winter ranges are generally open grassland habitats on warm aspects where relatively warm temperatures and lack of persistent snow permit sheep to locate food. These sites are usually associated with nearby steep terrain. Steep slopes and canyons in the Protected Area provide valuable escape terrain; sheep can escape down steep slopes and into treed canyons with great speed and agility. Lambing areas are usually rugged and remote in order to provide ewes with security and isolation from predators. Lambing occurs between mid April and early July, with the peak occurring from mid May to mid June. Again, because of the destruction of grassland habitats elsewhere in the province, California bighorns are blue-listed in B.C. California bighorn sheep are threatened by past overgrazing, competition with domestic livestock, and loss of habitat due to human encroachment.