Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Woodpeckers Part Two

I live fairly close to a cinder cone named Bessie Butte. Besides being a great vantage point to view the Oregon Cascades, this area is a good place to look for woodpeckers. Not because of the volcanic origin, but because of the 18 Fire that swept through here years ago.

That fire burned through the ponderosa forest surrounding the butte. Many of the snags became perforated with woodpecker cavities, and today, as the shrubby vegetation returns, there is a good diversity of "woodies" pounding away for insects.

Black-backs, hairies, downies, Lewis's and northern flickers are the more common woodpeckers to be seen. There are even some nest boxes out for the Lewis's - a project under the auspices of the East Cascades Audubon Society.

So, early last week I drove out to the burn, watched the activity level of the woodpeckers present, then stationed myself near a cavity that some Lewis's were using. Or at least considering to occupy. A pair of adults kept appearing at the hole, but without any prey. I deduced the nest was not yet active. A third Lewis's sent the first two into a tizzy; the posturing and calling increased until the unwanted quest departed.

I was after some woodpecker images to send in with my monthly Nature Happenings article in the Moab Happenings magazine. So after shooting some pictures of the Lewis's, I hunted around for some hairy woodpeckers, as well. I found some cooperative subjects and now look forward to returning to the burn to search for their nest site. Maybe I'll pound out an article on the hairies...

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