Friday, January 21, 2011

American Three-toed Woodpecker

From the Swampy Shelter, near Swampy Lakes in the Deschutes National Forest, I catch a woodpecker drumming. Short bursts with a quick trailing end. One of my goals this year is to learn the woodpecker's by their drumming. I've got a few down, but this one was unknown.

I was on a snowshoe outing with my COCC class. We had just arrived at the shelter and folks were having a snack. Of course, hearing a bird, especially a woodpecker drumming, made me drop my sandwich and grab my binoculars.

So, I learned it the old-fashioned way. Snuck up on the bird and listened while it pounded away on a standing dead lodgepole. Wait a little more, listen again. Move to the left and search with my binoculars. Seemed like we were playing a game. As I moved to one side, the woodpecker would go the other way. So, I waited some more.

Finally, an American three-toed woodpecker came into view. Barring on the back (ladder back) and barred flanks. Two white facial marks and white speckles on the crown. At one point the bird flew to another snag and started flicking away pieces of bark while searching for insects. Nice for me, because that tree was about 5 feet away.

The woodpecker's drumming was short and trailed off at the end. Listen to the call on the What Bird.com Web site to hear the cadence. The Sibley guide says that the three-toed's drumming is "...slower and shorter than Black-backed." So I guess I just keep listening, and remind myself to start hauling my camera with me.

County Big Year to date: 61 species

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