Black-Backed Birds


Today’s geocache took me to an MD of Bonnyville wooded area where I learned about the black-backed woodpecker. Here is what the geocacher named Cache Slinger says about it, “This uncommon woodpecker is a year round resident of the boreal forest and mountain regions of Alberta. Dense, mature conifer forests with burnt tree stands are essential to this woodpecker’s success. Like its cousin the American Three-toed Woodpecker, this woodpecker forages by scaling bark from dead trees to find insects. Seeds and fruit supplement their diet. It is unwary but may be hard to spot since its dark back is well camouflaged against the burnt trees on which it prefers to forage. A live tree with rotten heartwood is the nesting site of choice. Black-backed Woodpecker nests are excavated five to 15 feet high in the tree. Two to six white eggs are laid. Both parents incubate the eggs for 14 days. Young are fledged 15 days later.

The first thing I spotted in the middle of the woods was a toilet. I was thankful that was not the hiding spot; the “hint” didn’t match.  This cache came with a decoy of a penguin (another black-backed bird), but it was inside the cache, not up in a tree like it was originally supposed to be, but what a funny way to fool people searching for the correct location. The cache itself was created out of a tree stump. When I figure out how to open the puzzle-like top and placed it on the ground with the back facing up, I found a congratulatory message left just for geocachers.



As I was walking back to my car to sign the log book (because it was -30 with the wind chill) a dog who resembled Spuds Mackenzie ran up to me and went to the bathroom close to my feet. I couldn’t believe my eyes because this dog came out of seemingly nowhere. And then a truck drove by and called the dog (named Dozer) over. This dog was being exercised by running down this back road beside his owner’s truck; they did two passes by me. On my way home, I  saw a peaceful snowman, and a re-purposed or abandoned grain bin silo.

I was the 80th person to find this cache since it was hidden in 2011. Although I didn’t see a real black-backed woodpecker in the area, (the image of the black-backed woodpecker at the top of the page comes from the Creative Commons website), I was not disappointed with this find.