My Friend Flicker

Actually, he’s not my friend – he probably sees me as more of a stalker.

I was coming home from the grocery store and spotted some sparrows nesting behind the sign at the hardware store next door. I got some cool shots and loaded up my gear and wilting groceries and headed for home. As I started to pull out I spotted him across the parking lot in the median separating it from the highway. At first he caught my eye because he was large, then I saw the flash of red and the large spots. I slowly pulled over to a parking spot nearby because I noticed that he had no concern about passing cars as he fed…

20130528-121413.jpg As he dined curbside, I slowly opened the Jeep door and grabbed a couple of shots with his face buried in the grass, then I made a serious misstep. I moved from behind the door and he flew off. I jumped back in the Jeep and gave him chase across the highway and into a housing development where I lost him. I took out my iPhone birding app and made the identification and headed home to gaze at my photos of a bird with his nose in the grass, all along wishing that I had continued to snap until he had at least raised his head for me.

I get so excited when I spot a new species, and this time I had assumed he would be as calm as the woodpeckers I have cultivated relationships with at the Stone House. Having just come home from a trip where I shot lots of birds in park settings I just jumped the gun. He was gorgeous – Northern Flicker – a variety of woodpecker that often feeds on ants and forages on the ground. The black mustache marks on the sides of his face identify him as a male. His flight was stunning, the underside of his feathers are a gorgeous gold color. At first sight I mistook him for a mourning dove, but his movements were so much more deliberate, that’s what drew me from across the parking lot.

Later that afternoon, it struck me. My woodpeckers are creatures of habit. They fly from tree to tree in a pattern before approaching the feeder. I have found that most birds seem to have habits and like certain spots, so while there was still light I loaded up and headed back to the grocery store for another crack at the Flicker. When I pulled into the parking lot I came in from the side that would give me the best shooting angle and drove past the spot where he had been, but he wasn’t there. I shot a few blackbirds and starlings and headed around the corner for home when I spotted him 10 feet from that spot on the other side of the median. This time I got the car close and just stopped and shot. He tolerated me and flew towards the housing development – but then he stopped, not caring that I was there…

20130528-122530.jpgHe started at the curb again and worked his way up the hillside…

20130528-122631.jpgHe shot me a look back…

20130528-122725.jpgGlanced left…

20130528-122810.jpgLooked right…

20130528-122902.jpgAnd headed up the hill out of camera range.

You can bet I’ll be stalking him again real soon.

37 thoughts on “My Friend Flicker

  1. Pingback: No Bird Left Behind | the eff stop

  2. He has amazing color and texture. It’s amazing how nature can provide such wonderful things for us to see. Definitely inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Pingback: Why do Birds Suddenly Appear… | the eff stop

  4. What an interesting feather pattern and colour. Love the red neck ‘mini shawl’.
    I’ll look forward to seeing some more shots of this one.

  5. As usual, your photos of this bird are quite stunning. They capture moments of peace.
    LOVE the spark of red against the green. You have a real talent of bringing the magic out of simple things. πŸ™‚

  6. Well that was a great idea to go back to the same spot. It’s interesting to know where the tolerances are for different creatures though I’m convinced that personalities also make it inconsistent within a species.

    • I agree with you, I know that even the smallest birds have distinctive personalities. I have a titmouse that has a mark on his eye that chats with me and has no fear of me – I’m part of his ecosystem. Something in his personality makes him bolder.

  7. One of my favorites! I had four of them at the house I just moved out of. They would take turns at the suet. They also liked peanuts in the feeder. I know I had four because one time I saw them all at once! I was so excited! They were regulars all year round. They are here in Alberta. They usually like woods and trees but I’ve seen them in the backyard a lot. They are beauties and big!

    • As the crow flies, the market is about a mile away – it’s interesting how different the species are there verses here. I hope some find their way to the Stonehouse, but I already have three kinds of woodpeckers active now.

      • I had other woodpeckers come to the feeder too. I think they were more interested in the apple tree though. I loved to watch them. I’m not sure what kind of birds I have here at the new place. I haven’t put up my feeder yet. But with the coulies and open fields I should have a fair share of them.

        • I find that in a hollow one ridge away the mix can be very different. I get few sparrows and they are packed with them over there, same with starlings – it would be awesome to have a flicker at the feeder though.

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