About Woodpecker Wonderland
Woodpecker Wonderland is both a real and imaginary place. In the real world, it refers to the area where author Steve Shunk resides in central Oregon, which hosts more species of woodpeckers than anywhere else in North America – 11 species.
Woodpecker Wonderland is also an apt name for this website, as the online home of Steve’s book, the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America.
About Stephen Shunk
Woodpecker Wonderland website founder
Stephen was raised with a deep love and respect for nature, and went on to study Meteorology and Environmental Studies in college. Stephen began birding in 1989 in San Jose, California and began teaching birding classes in 1992. He founded the Paradise Birding tour company in 1997 soon after moving to Oregon. He has led birding tours to birding hot spots throughout western North America as well as internationally.
Commitment to bird conservation
Stephen started teaching birding as a way to share his enthusiasm for birds and as a vehicle to educate people about conservation. Conservation has always been a part of Steve’s birding “message”. Sound ecological systems require conservation of resources in our world of growing human population pressures. Conversely, the cascading degradation of unhealthy ecosystems eventually reaches all organisms in those systems, including humans. Steve likes showcasing healthy ecosystems, but in order for these places to sustainably persist, we need to ensure they are conserved. Birding conservation organizations he supports include Birds Caribbean, American Birding Conservancy, Italian League for Bird Protection, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter.
Steve co-founded the East Cascades Bird Conservancy and served as its first President. The Conservancy evolved into the East Cascades Audubon Society chapter. Steve has run two Christmas bird counts for the National Aubudon Society for well over a decade. He was also a co-founder of the Oregon Birding Trails program and coordinated its flagship project, the Oregon Cascades Birding Trail.
Steve founded the Woodpecker Wonderland Festival in Camp Sherman, Oregon to celebrate these many local woodpeckers. The festival has now been adopted by the East Cascades Audubon Society.
In addition to leading bird watching tours, he leads annual tours at a variety of birding festivals including the the Harney County Migratory Bird Festival and the Silver Falls State Park Birding & Wildflower Festival.
Woodpeckers are Steve’s specialty
Woodpeckers have fascinated Steve for two decades. His woodpecker research began in 1997 on the east slope of Oregon’s Cascade Mountains and quickly expanded across the continent. Steve has coordinated bird surveys for various agencies and organizations in Oregon and California, including research on the Black-backed woodpecker with the Institute for Bird Populations. He has also worked with the Cavity Conservation Initiative and taught workshops for the Mono Lake Committee.
He resides in central Oregon on the east slope of the Cascades– which happens to have the highest concentration of nesting woodpeckers – 11 species – to be found in North America.
Published articles about woodpeckers written by Steve Shunk
Steve enjoys writing about birds and birding for such publications as Living Bird, Birding magazine and Bird Watcher’s Digest.
He recently completed the Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North America, now is available for purchase from Amazon. for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishers. He also writes for the Nature Travel Network.
Below you will find a variety of magazine articles that Stephen Shunk has written over the years.
BIRDING MAGAZINE, Puzzling Flickers, Understanding Introgression. March/April 2014. READ ARTICLE
BIRDING MAGAZINE, Sphyrapicus Anxiety: Identifying Hybrid Sapsuckers ( A 10-page article) READ ARTICLE
BIRD WATCHER’S DIGEST, Species Profile, Northern Flicker. READ ARTICLE
LIVING BIRD MAGAZINE, Lewis’s Woodpecker. READ ARTICLE
OREGON CASCADES BIRDING TRAIL (A 32-page guide coordinated by Steve Shunk) VIEW MAP
WINGING IT – Newsletter of the American Birding Association. Woodpecker Wonderland READ ARTICLE
THE WILDLIFE SOCIETY NEWS, A new forest fire paradigm, The need for high-severity fires (co-authored with 5 others)
Steve is an engaging and dynamic speaker. He has delivered presentations for the annual meetings of state ornithological societies, numerous annual bird festivals, and many local bird clubs, including nearly 50 local Audubon chapters. Learn more about booking Steve for an event and the types of presentations he can give.
About Paradise Birding
Paradise Birding is a bird watching tour company founded by Stephen Shunk in 1997 and based in Bend, Oregon. He offers a handful of carefully crafted itineraries timed for optimal birding at some of the best destinations in the West and beyond. He leads tours to a variety of birding hotspots throughout western North America –Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Alberta,. In 2015 he began expanding his offerings to include trips to more exotic locales such as Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru,the Caribbean, Sicily and Borneo.Most tours are led by Paradise Birding owner and lead guide Stephen Shunk with assistance from a handful of highly qualified and dedicated co-leaders.
Steve specializes in leading woodpecker-themed tours in the East Cascades of Oregon where one can find an astonishing 11 species of woodpeckers within 100 square miles of his home base in Bend, Oregon. One of the things that sets Paradise Birding apart from other birding tour companies is Steve’s knowledge and experience with woodpeckers, which are keystone organisms—critical ecological components—in forests and woodlands around the world.
Woodpecker Conservation Tours
Many species of woodpeckers are threatened with extinction throughout the world, from Africa and Saudi Arabia to South America and Borneo. Even our own North American Red-cockaded Woodpecker is at risk. Paradise Birding, is committed to helping to preserve species at risk and is scheduling special woodpecker tours that support conservation projects in the areas inhabited by threatened and endangered woodpeckers. Learn more about future Woodpecker Conservation tours to the Caribbean,Borneo and more on the Paradise Birding website.