12 toes

On a recent hike that took us through a long stretch of a recently burnt forest we heard the sound of a woodpecker pecking away in search of a meal. When we finally got close enough we were surprised and rewarded with a male American Three-toed Woodpecker drilling away.

The American Three-toed Woodpecker’s small stature is deceptive. One study of its musculature and skeleton revealed that this woodpecker can deliver especially powerful blows. It’s been suggested this is due to the evolutionary loss of the fourth toe—an unusual trait shared only by the Eurasian Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers. With only three toes, these species may be able to lean farther away from the tree and thereby hit the tree harder than other woodpeckers, all of which have four toes.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Three-toed_Woodpecker/overview

While we were watching this guy drill away it became clear that there must be another individual out of sight on the other side of the tree given as we heard drumming even when this male was holding still and within a few minutes a female emerged from the hidden side of the tree.

American Three-toed Woodpeckers are much more numerous in disturbed forests than in mature green forest, so look for them in bark beetle outbreaks, recently burned areas (up through about 8 years after a wildfire), and other places with dead and dying trees. 

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Three-toed_Woodpecker/overview

There was only a short moment when both the female and male were visible in the viewfinder together but they do make a mine pair and 4 legs with three toes each well…that’s twelve toes.

Time With Chip

Spending a little time with Chip. This summer a Chipmunk family seems to have made a home nearby and we were happy to spend some time observing them feeding, playing and just hanging out doing what Chipmunks do.

Play was on the menu this afternoon under the shade of an old Douglas Fir.

After expending all the energy a quick snack of Service Berry was in order. Better save a few for winter.

We all know what follows a big meal. Yes, a little afternoon snooze. Who wouldn’t like that on s sultry summer afternoon.

Have a wonderful and happy weekend.

On wildflowers

Late July and the birds are quiet, the landscape is parched in many places as drought has tightened its grip, yet along a creek where the last water flows wildflowers are still in bloom the flowers are topped with beautiful butterflies.

While the Checkerspot photographed above is a species we frequently see each summer the butterflies below are ones we either have never seen or perhaps never noticed.

The Black and White species above is anything but black and white sporting iridescence that glows like a rainbow in the proper light. In addition to being beautiful this species was also fairly small measuring about 0.75 inches in length.

Another small and iridescent species measuring just the length of a petal on a wild sticky geranium. This individual was difficult to photograph always darting from flower to flower. Luckily they found what they were looking for on this flower and stayed long enough for a photo.

The smallest butterfly we have seen this summer was perhaps this species which seemed to favor the white sticky geraniums along the creek. Perhaps half the size of the flowers petal, small indeed.

Now that August is near the wildflowers are quickly drying and dying for the season and along with the flower the butterflies go as well. Well, next summer is just around the corner.

Chipping Sparrow: Spizella passerina

It wouldn’t seem like summer without the sounds of the Chipping Sparrows echoing through the trees in our area. A beautiful little sparrow with their rufous crown. We see the Chipping Sparrow foraging on branches, jumping around on the ground and hopping about in the both pine and deciduous tress each summer.

More often than not a hike through the forest in July is accompanied by their song echoing through the woods. A song we thoroughly enjoy.

So here’s to the Chipping Sparrow a widespread, modest and wonderful summer companion.

Song Sparrow: Melospiza melodia

Given the enormous variety of regional differences it took a few looks and luckily photographs, to be certain this indeed was a Song Sparrow. And what a fine looking Song Sparrow it was.

For quite some time this birds perched upon a thorny branch of a small shrub. Moving back and forth and allowing us a nice long look during which were were able to inch ever closer.

After a few minutes this bird moved just a few yards away to a shrub containing leaves. While it was the same bird the image seemed to take on a different feeling. From pure blue sky and thorny shrub to a fresh field of green.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

Those Blue Legs

Always looking delicate and elegant and with those beautiful blue legs in full display and American Avocet wades through a shallow poll in search of a meal earlier this spring.

It’s hard to believe many wading birds will soon begin the perilous journey back south for the winter. Given this summers heat wave across the American west we hope some the the pools and ponds these birds rely on for their fall migration have not dried up to the point of leaving them high and dry. Migration is a dangerous business and climate change is making it more dangerous every year.

A Small Bouquet

With summer chugging along at breakneck speed a small bouquet of wildflowers, picked via camera, from a recent mornings walk feels a fitting way to start another week.

oh, and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. They just don’t last that long.

Lupine, Wild Rose, Arrowleaf-Balsamroot and Sticky Geranium.