Wednesday, March 24, 2010


From my post to BCINTBIRD:

There have been spotty feeder reports of single White-headed Woodpeckers dating back to last August and continuing through this winter, so since January I've made a point of making visits to the pine woods in the Camp McKinney area. On the 17th however, I received a reliable report of a pair in the forest around Porcupine Place and another possible bird on the Shrike Hill Road. Since then I have gone up there three times but only for a few hours at a time. Today my plan was to spend a full day but as it turns out I didn't need it!

I parked at the very end of Porcupine Road--- where an obvious gas-line cut runs off to the NW. I entered onto the crown land at the gate and headed up the hill (heading NE) for a while stopping to listen for tapping and any other sort of clue. In the distance flickers called and drummed constantly, and large groups of all three species of nuthatches, Cassin's Finches, Mountain Chickadees, Red Crossbills, and Clark's Nutcrackers all came in to investigate my pygmy-owl imitation but no prized white-heads. Having sufficiently covered the area where the pair had been seen I decided to head back down the hill to my car, then search the woods up near the McCuddy Ranch on Old Camp McKinney Road.

But as I approached the car I heard a soft drum... "could this be one?" I thought.... but then a flicker called and flew off the tree in question. "Darn" But then I heard tapping... "maybe this?" but then I discovered that it was a Hairy Woodpecker. I was about to cross the fence when my eye caught a flash of white.... THERE IT IS!!! A male WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER working a stump only a few meters from where I parked the car!!! I fired off a couple record shots, then proceeded to study the bird and confirm it's sex... certainly a male. After a few minutes he moved up to a nearby tree and continued to fleck bark and work the deadwood much like a Hairy. I called my Dad, and John and Mary Theberge (birders living just down the road) to exclaim my find. Just before the Theberges arrived the bird flew about 80 meters deeper into the woods but I managed to track it down and got them onto it. I took a few more photos and got some video clips which I will post on the blog this evening (after my Dad's book launch which I should get to right away!).

Some interesting observations of the bird:

-Mostly worked pine-beetle-killed trees (who says they only eat pine seeds?)
-Fed with a small party of Hairy Woodpecker
-On one occasion the WH showed a bit of dominance over the Hairy, chasing from a good-looking tree then continuing to feed
-Allowed me to approach fairly close but was clearly aware of my presence and at times looked a little nervous

Eventually after about 25 minutes of observation, he started calling continually and flew up to the top of a snag for about a minute before flying way up the hill. I tried running up and refinding it but no luck. About 30 minutes late Don Wilson and Nancy Krueger arrived but we couldn't relocate the bird (although the wind made things difficult).

YOUTUBE VIDEO LINKS (I am the mysterious Rusty Rizzer BTW):


  1. nice one indeed! thanks for posting these great shots.

  2. Since you posted this information there has been a steady stream of cars down Porcupine Road and people with binoculars wandering around. I can't imagine that this is good for the poor woodpeckers trying to nest in the area. I don't think many people have seen them lately. I suspect the activity has caused them to move elseware.