Today was flight training day for a juvenile Northern Flicker as his parents, he father seen here, flew from tree to tree and tried to get him to come to them. You can’t miss flickers when they are around, they are as loud as blue jays and when they really rev up their ki ki ki ki call it sounds sounds as if they are loudly giggling.
But the most notable thing about them is every detail of their appearance—they are large woodpeckers, 10 to 12 inches long, and have tan and black striped wings and tan and black polka-dotted chest with a prominent black crescent like a necklace, yellow or red underside their tail and wings, and males have a red crescent on the back of their neck. They frequently feed on the ground and have long beaks that reach for insects in tree bark and in the soil. I am glad to see them because they eat snails and slugs and other garden pests. I’ve been hoping something would come along to help me control those slimy things, and guess the flicker family thinks they’ve found heaven.
Here is a photo of him calling his progeny…
And looking to see if he’d shown up.
But when I went back in the house Giuseppe, one of my cats, led me to the window by my computer and pointedly looked out. I thought there might be a hummingbird, but it was actually the juvenile flicker—a male, as you can see by the nascent red crescent on the back of his neck—was sitting quietly in the grapevine garland around the porch. I went outside to take a closer look and see if he was possibly entangled; birds land on this frequently but with his age and inexperience he might not know quite what to do. I spoke to him and reached up to pull the vines apart and he collected himself and off he went to a branch on the lilac near the ground, then hopped into the ground covers and went rustling away underneath the cover. I’m glad he was okay, I want those flickers to feel welcome.