July 2, 2017

A Week of Wondrous Woodpeckers

It's been an interesting week for us on the woodpecker front.  Last weekend, near the Saskatchewan River Crossing, north of Lake Louise, we found the Johnny Cash of woodpeckers, the black-backed woodpecker. As the name suggests, they are attired mostly in black, and it makes them very well-camouflaged in their preferred habitat, burned forest. In 2014, in early July, there was a big lightning-sparked fire at the Crossing.

From the side they are pretty easy to see, but when we startled a juvenile, and it flew up onto the trunk of a charred tree right beside the trail, it seemed to disappear.  We crept past, and it stayed stock still, becoming one with the tree.

See if you can find the woodpecker against this tree trunk...

Et voila...

The aftermath of the 2014 fire at Saskatchewan River Crossing 

These last few days, we've been leading walks at Moraine Lake, and there is a three-toed woodpecker nest right beside the trail.  The nest is at head height, and the juvenile woodpecker lets out a constant barrage of chirps, so hundreds of people a day are hearing it, and getting a close up view of this forest woodpecker.

We've both taken a quick peek ourselves, and then backed up into the forest to watch for one of the adults to come to the nest with food. Even with hoards of people around, mom and dad will fly in whenever there is a break to feed the young. The youngster should take flight any day now.

We're looking forward to our next interesting wildlife encounter.