[Tweeters] Black-backed and three-toed woodpeckers Wenatchee Mountains

MT Tomboulian at comcast.net
Mon Oct 17 22:24:17 PDT 2016

I don’t post much on tweeters or do much with e-bird, but I’ve been birding for over 50 years with a modest life list of about 1900

Yesterday I led a group of birders who had just completed a birding tour with Greg Miller and Wildside Tours to Northwest hotspots for the second day of and add-on tour that I created. These are folks whom I met in Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama. After their sponsored tour ended I tried my best to fill in some species holes in their life lists, and we did pretty well, considering marine species were already covered. And yes, foreigners, most of Washington State is not rainforest!

A year ago to the day I followed Michael Hobbs’ and George Gerdt’s directions to find black-backed and American three-toed woodpeckers off of Blewett Pass, and was very successful, finding 8 black-backs, 3 American Three-toed, as well as 5 Hairy (interior west) woodpeckers, all in family groups and all together at one point about a mile shy of Haney Meadow on FR 9712

I saw no recent posts, took a chance, and we did indeed find both species again, both along FR 9716 and 9712 in several places, although the food source may be changing (bark on burn trees is curling up and falling off) I’m not an expert, I don’t know. But we did get two pairs of black backs on 9716 before intersection with 9712 with a calling three-toed in the same spot, as well as a Hairy, with a group of gray jays entertaining as well. We watched the gray jays harassing the black-backs and being repulsed—I assume they were trying to steal the beetles and grubs being uncovered, so we distracted them with unsalted pecans on the road while getting some great photos. We found an immature three-toed comically learning to forage in the exact same spot they were found last year, about a mile short of Haney Meadow, with a parent we did not see calling from nearby. I had my new blue-tooth calling speaker, but didn’t even need it.

So if you want to find them, they are still there. I’ll try to put up an e-bird post

I felt blessed on so many levels—that strangers met in foreign lands can converge together with this common interest and enjoy the hunt, that the destruction caused by the wildfire is serving a purpose now in another way, that 8 people got two life species in one spot, including two with 580+ ABA lists, that other less-shy people had posted their findings last year.

We don’t think of it much, because we can easily find these birds up there, or like this spring I saw nests on Bethel Ridge—but if you look at the species maps most of the total area is inaccessible. One lady in my group had tried for both birds in Fairbanks in minus-10 degree weather in the snow and failed.

American three-toed is the first entry in my life-list, written by my Mom when I was two years old, in the Adirondacks of upstate NY in 1964. She says I found it and pointed it out. I actually remember it vividly. Now I have a post-script at ABA number 626. And invitations to visit the homes of otherwise total strangers to return the favor

So what goes around comes around in so many ways

Mark Tomboulian

tomboulian at comcast dot net

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