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July 10, 2005


American Three-toed Woodpecker Recipe


1) Travel many hours by car to the far SW corner of Kansas...and then for good measure, proceed just a bit farther

2) Drive to the picnic area at the Cimarron National Grassland along K-27

3) Park your vehicle and walk to the slipper-slide

4) Bird will immediately appear 6-8 feet up on the first elm due east

5) If this doesn't work, please go back to step 1 and repeat ;-)


Seriously, the long drive was worth the numerous views of an amazing woodpecker (first record of this species in Kansas). Known to some as "Trey" or "C-3TO" he was first discovered by a party of 4 birders (Matt Gearheart, Aaron Mitchell, Will and April Chatfield-Taylor) on July 3rd. He was last seen on July 10th.


When I first saw him on July 9th, I was a bit surprised at how oblivious he was to me and other birders. Fresh and not-so-fresh sap "holes" were visible at a variety of heights around the tree. It made me wonder how long he had been present before being discovered.


His temporary home was a small grove of elms and a couple cottonwoods around a small picnic/play area. The Cimarron River flows nearby (typically underground) and provides enough water for this small pocket of trees. The surrounding land of the Cimarron National Grassland is primarily composed of sagebrush, yucca, and cacti.


I saw Oklahoma and Texas license tags on the vehicles driven by some visitors. It was a nice feeling to see a bird in Kansas attracting these out of state trekkers. It was even stranger to realize that in all likelihood their drive home was much shorter than mine!





An extreme head close-up. Be sure and click the photograph for an enlargement.


The birds namesake (most woodpecker species have four toes)


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   Images Judd Patterson