[Tweeters] Sooty/Dusky(?) Grouse in the Wenas-23 March

Andy Stepniewski steppie at nwinfo.net
Sat Mar 23 17:41:31 PDT 2013

23 MARCH 2013

Ellen and I hiked up into Black Canyon, accessed opposite Hardy Canyon, in
the lower Wenas region. We started from the trailhead at mouth of canyon to
and trekked up to the ridgetop on south side of canyon at 4,300 feet
elevation. The day started out cloudy and cold, but the skies cleared by
late morning, making for it a beautiful early spring day. A few wildflowers
dappled the lithosols, mostly Canby's Biscuitroot, but also some patches of
Sagebrush Buttercup, and a handful of Yellowbells.

Birds were pretty sparse. Our most interesting observation was hearing a
call note, from the shrub-steppe, exactly like that of a Dusky Grouse. GPS
46.52.158 120.41.163. We heard this grouse utter a a single hoot, at an
interval of perhaps 5 seconds, seeming, to both of us, slightly higher
pitched than the Sooty Grouse calling at the same time, from nearby slopes.
The habitat at this site was 90%+ cover of shrub-steppe of Big and Threetip
Sagebrush and scattered Ponderosa Pine. Dusky Grouse are not known to occur
this far south on the Cascade east slopes but some observers speculate
grouse in this area of Umtanum and Manashtash Ridges exhibit traits
intermediate between Sooty and Dusky Grouse. Regardless, if I had heard this
call in Okanogan County, there would be no question in my mind it was a

Species list:

Gray Partridge 2 Dense sagebrush and grassland (Bluebunch Wheatgrass
and Idaho Fescue) at 3,800 feet elevation on north-facing slopes south of
upper basin.
Sooty Grouse 5
Northern Harrier 1
Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Northern Flicker 4
Say's Phoebe 1
Steller's Jay 2
Black-billed Magpie 1
Common Raven 3
Horned Lark 1
Black-capped Chickadee 6
Mountain Chickadee 2
Pacific Wren 1
Mountain Bluebird 2
American Robin 3
Spotted Towhee 6
Song Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 20

Andy and Ellen Stepniewski
Wapato WA
steppie at nwinfo.net

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