Tag Archives: flicker family

Flicker Mystery – love, suspense, heartache, forgiveness – The End

To start at the beginning of this love story, click on the tag: Flicker Family, at the bottom of this post.  Then click on Older Entries (until there are no more) to get to the first post.

This is the last post in the Flicker Family saga of 2013.

The end is shrouded in mystery as the parents seem to have vanished.  Is this what happens when flicker parents have more than 2 chicks?  They are out-numbered and too busy to help any more than one-on-one?  As a human parent, I can relate.

If you remember in my post, And Then There Were None, the last flicker chick ventured out of the nest and lost his footing.  He flew a little better than a rock to the ground.

fledged flicker chick
Still building strength

Three days later we heard his “I’m hungry” call from the ground and looked out to find him on our path to the Alsea River.

fledged flicker chick
Premature Fledge

He was catching insects.  I’m glad to see that he is eating but I’m worried about him being on the ground.  He seem unstable as he gets around and I told him that his feet aren’t designed to work that way.  The child in me wanted to rescue him, or at least sit down and see if he wouldn’t mind being close to me.  But then the voice of reason (Don) said to me, scare him so he knows he can fly.  (For some reason these are opposite behaviors for Don and I.)

But anyway, I walked towards him quickly to scare him and sure enough he flew and landed on the nearby tree.

fledged flicker chick
He can fly!

I was relieved.  I’m sure he just has to continue gaining strength before he’ll be flying further away from the nest.  He flew back down to the path and then to the other side of the house and back.  Then he flew away and we haven’t seen or heard him for 3 days.

I wonder where flickers go in the summer?

I wonder if he’ll ever see his parents again and if they’ll recognize each other?

I doubt that animals hold grudges like people do.  Wouldn’t that be nice – to just keep on doing what you were born to do without holding a grudge for obstacles encountered along the way!

And then there were none

was none?  or were none?  Grammar is not my strength.

Over the last few days I have suspected that the flicker chicks were fledging one by one.

flicker chick at nest entrance
Mom? Dad? Where are you?

The parents stay away longer between feedings.  I only saw 2 chicks in the nest yesterday.  This morning just one was left.

flicker chick venturing out of nest
Maybe they’ll hear me better if I just step out here

I didn’t see the parents at all today. Of course I don’t have time to sit and watch all day.  But I usually see them if I’m out there for 10 or 15 minutes.

flicker chick losing footing
Whoa! That was close!

This one doesn’t look as mature as the other two did.  I was watching it through the camera lens and suddenly it started to venture outside the nest.  She flapped her wings a couple times to regain her footing; chirping the whole time.  But then she lost her footing and she flapped as she drifted to the ground.  She landed in the tall grass.  She was quiet for a long time.  Then started chirping again.  We didn’t see her again.  I don’t know if she’ll try to find a tree or just hunker down there for the night.  We didn’t see the parents come back either.

peep peep peeP peEP PEEP!

We’re starting to hear the Flicker chicks learning the language.  The parent sits high in a nearby tree and makes a quiet call.  Then the chick pokes his head out of the hole and quietly calls back.

Flicker Dad Feeding Chick
Flicker Dad Feeding Chick

Is that a little color I see on his cheek?

flicker colors on chick
See the black collar and red cheek

As they get louder it will get more annoying I’m sure.  The parents have started drilling on our roof again – well on our rain gutters.  They must like the noise it makes?  Or they are entertained by my reaction.  I open the door to scare them away but sometimes I don’t know which side of the house they are on so it takes me a few minutes.

bird chick begging for food
Mom, I’m hungry Mom, Mom

I don’t know what kind of birds these are…other than the one on the right is the parent.  The one on the left stops peeping for maybe a total of 2 minutes during the day, 2 seconds at a time.  He fortunately sleeps at night.

bird chick desparate for food from mom
Don’t go! I’m still hungry!

And then he panics.

I’ve heard it said that we go through the teen years so that our parents will have an easier time letting us go when it is time for us to be on our own.

Maybe this is how it happens in the bird world.

The Flicker Chicks

No, they’re not a new country girl band.

flicker chicks
Mom feeding chicks

We finally got a peek at the flicker chicks today!

Dad feeds 3 chicks
1 -2 -3 beaks

I counted 3 open mouths that Daddy Flicker was feeding.

flicker dad preening
Dad you look fine. I’m hungry!

Dad seemed to get a little nonchalant about feeding time.

flicker chicks
Hey! That’s my head!

I noticed Mom Flicker reach in past the 2 in the front to make sure all got their fair share.  But this guy got a little too eager.   hahaha

These photos were taken near Blackberry Campground on the Alsea River in Tidewater, Oregon.


Sneaky Starling Foreshadows Flicker Fatality :-(

I was concerned when I observed this sneaky starling 3 days ago.

Starling lands near the Flicker nest
Starling lands near the Flicker nest

See it on the branch, at the bottom of the pic, looking up at the Flicker nest (hole in the tree).

Starling enters the Flicker nest
Starling enters the Flicker nest

That starling is up to no good!  That stinker went all the way inside the nest.

starling leaves without robbing flicker nest
Leaves without taking anything

I was surprised the Flicker parents didn’t notice!  They were back in less than 5 minutes.  They didn’t act like anything was wrong.

Flicker Mom Protects from Crow
Flicker Mom Protects from Crow

The next day I heard a crow squawking across the river.  I haven’t seen the Flickers sitting in the doorway since they were building the nest.  But mom sat there until she didn’t hear the crow anymore.  I see the parents leaving the nest with something white in their beak several times a day.   I assume it’s part of an egg.  They don’t just drop it near their nest.  They carry it at least 50 yards away where I can’t see what they do with it.

Flicker Dad checks the nest
Dad checks the nest

Today I saw both parents head toward the tree at the same time.  That was unusual so I grabbed the camera.  Mom came and landed on the branch while Dad went in.  Then, to my surprise Mom went up to the hole.

Sad day for Flicker parents
Sad day for Flicker parents

But when Dad came out he had sad news 😦   I’m pretty sure that’s a dead chick in his beak.

They lay 5 – 8 eggs.  Maybe the others have hatched and this one didn’t yet so they broke into it?  Or maybe that starling broke the egg?

On a side note, look at the female’s eye.  Her eye is half closed but the direction of they eyelid is what is interesting to me.  Maybe the position protects the eye from flying debris when they peck.  These are the Red-shafted variety of the Northern Flickers.  You can see orange tinges to the flight feathers in the next photo.

Red-shafter Northern Flicker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker


Silent Flickers?

Flickers are usually pretty noisy but we haven’t seen or heard this nesting couple in about 2 weeks.

Female Flicker without Red
Female Flicker without Red

Then we started noticing them flying around again but without making a sound.

Male Flicker with Red Moustache
Male Flicker with Red Moustache

They fly away silently; I assume to protect the location of their chicks.  I can hear their calls when they are far away.

I can’t wait until they start peeking out!

The following info is from   http://www.birdweb.org/birdweb/bird/northern_flicker


Northern Flickers typically excavate nesting cavities in dead or diseased pine, cottonwood, or willow trees.  Males do most of the excavation with some help from females.  Both incubate the 5 to 8 eggs for about 11 days, then brood the newly hatched young for about 4 days more.  Both sexes feed the young, which leave the nest after 24 to 27 days.  The parents continue to feed the young once they fledge, and soon the young begin to follow the adults to foraging sites and gather their own food.



The Birds and the Bees Minus the Bees

Let me tell you ’bout the birds and the bees…

Turkey Vulture - Red Tag on (BC) Right Wing
Turkey Vulture – Red Tag (BC) on Right Wing

I’ll find out more about Turkey Vulture BC but in the meantime click here to read about tagging vultures in Venezuela.

and the flowers and the trees…

Gold Finch Couple Camoflaged in Tree
Gold Finch Couple Camoflaged in Tree

and the moon and a bug …

I'll arm wrestle you for the 1 bug!
I’ll arm wrestle you for the 1 bug!

Okay so I changed the words to the song.  But I don’t have a photo of the moon today and had to work in the crawdad photo.

We left him in the cage til he calls friends and family for a pot luck dinner.

Warning:  The next photo may not be suitable for children.

And a thI-ng called lo-O-ove

Flicker Love
Flicker Love

Sorry, but after the 3rd Flicker couple stopped to use our tree, I had to take a photo.  Besides, one observation is an oddity, twice is notable, the third makes it a study. 🙂

Harbor Seal Mom and Pup
Harbor Seal Mom and Pup

Say hello to the new generation of Harbor Seals in Alsea Bay.

Seal Pup Kisses
Seal Pup Kisses

I wonder if seal puppy breath smells as sweet as dog puppy breath?

Seal Snuggles
Seal Snuggles

This is my favorite.  It’s the same look on a human parent’s face when they look at their sweet little baby.  You know, before they turn 2. 🙂

Seems like a good time to share a friend’s child-rearing philosophy:

Babies are adorable.  But when they turn 2, put them in a box with holes in it.

Then, when they turn 13, fill in the holes.

My thought: If you do not take the first step (with the box), there’s no turning back and you deserve everything you get.