[Tweeters] White-tailed Ptarmigan info on the Goat Rocks and Yakima County?

Andy Stepniewski steppie at nwinfo.net
Mon Dec 16 11:00:03 PST 2013

Yakkers, and Tweeters,

Jerry Swena, a Chehalis birder, hiker and climber, related to me his
observation of two White-tailed Ptarmigan near the top of Old Snowy in the
Goat Rocks Wilderness Area, sometime in August 1995. Looking closely at
Google Maps, he pinpointed the location as just west of the summit in Lewis

As many Yakima County birders have undertaken expeditions searching for
White-tailed Ptarmigan over the past 15 years without success, this
comparatively recent observation is exciting. While writing Birds of Yakima
County in the 1990s, I queried the Cascadians, a local outdoor club, for
sightings of ptarmigan in Yakima County. I received info on a number of
observations. None were recent, though; most were from the 1980s.

Michael Schroeder has passed on to me a sighting on Mt. Adams ("High Camp"
on the southeast ridge) from just a couple years ago.

So, I want to ask if Tweeterland observers have any more recent observations
of White-tailed Ptarmigan from Yakima County. Suitable alpine habitat
appears to exist on the Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.

If ptarmigan disappear from the Cascade crest in the Yakima region, this is
more evidence of climate change. A warming climate will lead to the upper
Subalpine Zone advancing up-mountain in elevation, driving the Alpine Zone
will off the peaks. There is widespread anecdotal evidence this is
occurring. A number of plant ecologists have commented on the "invasion" of
subalpine herbaceous meadows by conifers in the Subalpine Zone about Mt.
Rainier and White Pass (especially Hogback Mountain and Bear Creek Mountain)
as an obvious phenomenon ongoing near timberline.

Andy Stepniewski
Wapato WA
steppie at nwinfo.net

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