Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Come rain, come snow, come sunny mornings -


Our pair of beautiful Northern flickers are constant visitors. Several years ago I noticed them on the ground in the back garden. They had a youngster and the father was apparently training it on how to find and eat insects, ants and beetles being their favorite food, while the mother watched from the fence. They are the only woodpecker to regularly feed on the ground.

I fell in love with these spotted and striped woodpeckers that morning!  

Northern flicker - female - 12" brown and black woodpecker,
black necklace above speckled breast, red spot on neck

Male flicker, same except for a black mustache making
 it quite easy to distinguish.

Since our one dismal snow fall of this winter - just when a nice 6" would have been great as there was plenty of free time to play, build snow people, make snow angels, throw snowballs, and give housebound children, and adults, "something different to do" - the flicker pair have been devouring suet cakes which I stay busy replenishing. These could be their next favorite meal when insects aren't plentiful.  

Even as I write on this lovely morning, bright with welcome sunshine and the promise of a fine day with a high of 63F,  the pair of flickers are enjoying breakfast. The female seems really hungry, perhaps preparing to become a 'mom' this spring.

The male usually selects the nest site, taking up to 12 days to excavate. They have one brood per year, laying 5-8 white unmarked eggs, and both parents incubate for 14 days. Babies fledge in 25-28 days and both parents feed the young.

I hope we see babies this year.

I'm adding this photo to show the size of the woodpecker compared to the Eastern bluebird. They seem to get along fine together at the feeders, the bluebird usually sitting patiently waiting for a chance to nibble. . . . . . .

. . . . . . and this photo, showing the beautiful flash of golden wing and tail feathers displayed as this male flicker flies away with a bill stuffed with suet, under the watchful eye of the bluebird.  Here in the southeast, populations of these woodpeckers swell in winter when northern migrants arrive, and our own, being non-migrators, grace us with their presence year round. 
We really are so lucky. Nature is so generous.

All photos taken from my dining room window.


  1. I'm just wondering how you are since the 2nd covid shot. How long did the "spell" last and which shot did you have - the 3 weeks between or the 4weeks?

  2. Dear Mary, These photographs are sensational. They are worth waiting for.


    Dear Mary,
    These photographs are sensational. They were worth waiting for. We have flickers but they are a nuisance. They are also not as colorful as yours. Right now they are busy pecking holes into our stucco buildings. Do your woodpeckers drill holes into your structures?

  3. You do have some fascinating bird life, Mary. Our birds seem very hungry at the minute and are enjoying sunflower seeds and peanuts.

  4. Wow, what a shot of the flicker in flight! They are truly such beautiful birds but I don't think I've ever seen a female. I'll keep watching.

  5. Beautiful photos of your Northern Flickers. We have seen them in our garden from time to time, but not very regularly. I think they are so lovely with their intricate markings. We have stopped filling our feeders on the recommendation of our wildlife officers as the Pine Siskins have been succumbing to salmonella. Although we do wash our feeders with a mild bleach solution, better safe than sorry. I hope we can resume feeding in the future as it is so much fun to watch the antics of the birds from our window.
    Beautiful sunshine here today, and I saw some fat robins flying around the garden.

  6. A flicker would seem a very good descriptor of a woodpecker - they are such flighty birds despite their size. We have many at my house in France but none here in my UK home. You are blessed.

  7. Dearest Mary,
    What lovely and happy photos from your feeding station for the feathered garden friends!
    We have not seen the Common Flicker in quite a while but what a delight to see them here in action.
    The Blue bird seems to be so 'at home'... what a joy!
    And double joy when shared.

  8. Such beautiful bird pictures! 63 degrees...wow, sounds amazing. I can't wait until we have that kind of weather here. It was in the low 40's today and it felt like a heat wave compared to the frigid temps we've had all month. We took a little day trip and were driving around with the car windows open. I even got an iced coffee while we were out instead of a hot one. ;-)

  9. You really manage to take great pictures of the birds in your garden, Mary. The spots and stripes, the yellow-gold under the wings, the red spot on the neck - what's not to love!

  10. Darling Mary,

    Such beautiful photographs. They have really brightened our morning, enabling us to marvel at the colours and the antics of these birds that we do not see otherwise.

    It is always intriguing to see the 'pecking order' of birds. How patiently the tiny Bluebird seems to be waiting for its turn at the bird feeder. There is a natural order of things, each bird seeming to know his or her place.

    And, the golden glow of the wings, caught in the sunlight is dramatically fabulous!

  11. Oh Mary, aren't birds fascinating? That is so cute to read the father bird was teaching the young to find food. As for the darling bluebird, waiting patiently, I am smitten. I wish I could show that picture to the birds which fight every morning at our feeders! I also did not realise the flicker is a woodpecker, which is such an intriguing bird. I have only once seen one pecking at a tree in Canada but it had different markings to the flickers. Lovely photos, beautifully captured. xox

  12. Beautiful photos of beautiful birds.


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