[Tweeters] watching Wenas woodpeckers

Jeff Kozma jcr_5105 at charter.net
Wed Mar 19 19:00:15 PDT 2014

Hi Tweeters,

For those who do not know me, I have been studying White-headed Woodpeckers along the east slope of the Washington Cascades since 2003. I have been out the last few weeks trying to relocate our (collaboration with phD student Teresa Lorenz) color banded White-headed Woodpeckers (WHWO) as part of our study on adult yearly survival. Yesterday I was out in the Wenas along the Hog Ranch Road a little west of the campground where the Audubon Memorial Day campout is held and relocated a pair of our color banded WHWO that we banded in 2011. The male was aged as after-third year when banded, meaning he was at least 3 years old and the female was aged as second-year when banded, meaning she was at least one year old. That means the male is now at least 7 years old and the female is 5 years old! Not only does this give us insight into longevity of this species but also perhaps some indication to site fidelity and pair bonds. Some other things we have seen with the color banding is that there is some indication that occassionally females may leave one territory and move to another male's territory, while we have not seen evidence that males will leave a territory and set up shop somewhere else. Basically, once a male has a territory, he holds it for his lifetime (which makes sense biologically).

My reason for posting this? As more of us start getting out in the forest, please scrutinize any White-headed Woodpeckers you see (especially in Yakima County) and check to see if it has color bands on its legs. We have color banded WHWO in the Rimrock/Bethel Ridge area, Nile, Wenas, and Rattlesnake/McDaniel Lake area. Even if it's a bird you think you have seen before in an area you have been to before, check again. There are floaters (non-breeders) in the population and many of those are 1-year olds who do not have a territory and may be birds that were banded as juveniles (hatch-year birds) that would be great to get relocation data on (or simply to know if they are alive!). These floaters move around the landscape and we think they prospect for openings in territories when a dominant bird dies. Each banded bird will have 2 color bands on one leg and one color band and one metal band on the other leg. Please try to record the colors and their locations as that is critical for identifying individuals (see example below). In the Wenas alone we have banded 44 White-headed Woodpeckers since 2011 so getting the color combos correct is important. The only time two WHWO will have the same color combo would be a mated pair because we can tell them apart by their sex.

For Example, report the color combos in this manner (upper is closest to the body, lower is closest to the foot):

Upper Right, Lower Right, Upper Left, Lower Left = Pink , Mauve, Orange, Metal or Metal, Black, Yellow, Yellow, etc.

Thanks again for your help in recording color banded woodpecker sightings. Your help is greatly appreciated! Please send all sightings/photos to me at my e-mail below. Also, if you can record a location with a GPS that would be great.or at least with a reference to a Township Range Section, creek, road, etc. To find out more about our research, click on the website link below.

Happy woodpecker watching!


Jeff Kozma

TFW Wildlife Biologist

Yakama Nation Fisheries Resource Management

P.O. Box 151

Toppenish, WA 98948

O - 509-865-5121 x 6343

C - 509-945-4926

F - 509-865-6293

e-mail - kozj at yakamafish-nsn dot gov

website - Avian Research in Managed Ponderosa Pine Forests of Washington | Yakama Nation Fisheries

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