Saturday, May 30, 2020

Exploring Bellingham: Northern Flicker


An American Flicker sitting on a dead tree in Bellingham.
We chose our condo because of the view from our bedroom and living room windows out to the protected riparian zone along a small creek.

We're on the north side of downtown Bellingham. While it's a busy area (in normal times) next to Bellis Fair Mall, there are many parks, protected areas and large undeveloped lots nearby.

The riparian zone is home to many types of birds. I've already introduced you to the Pileated Woodpecker. Another is the Northern Flicker.

Northern Flickers are also in the woodpecker family. They are large brown birds with distinctive markings like a dark bib around the neck. I believe this is a female because she is missing red whiskers. Unlike the Pileated Woodpecker who drills for food, Flickers feed along the ground looking for ants, beetles and grubs. They'll also eat fruits and berries foraged from branches.

Flickers like to frequent the dead trees in the natural area behind our condo.

They drill to communicate and make a nest hole if an empty one isn't available. Here's a story about an encounter Wayne and I had with a Northern Flicker up the lake at our float cabin.

Flicker nesting deterrents and lots of yelling finally worked.
Several years ago, a Flicker started drilling a nest hole in our cabin's wall. John’s mother, Helen, suggested painting large yellow and black owl eyes. It had worked during a woodpecker invasion at our friend John's Cabin #1.

Two aluminum pans and paints created scary owls. Wayne nailed boards over the hole and installed the guard owls. It took several days to chase the Flicker away to choose another nest site, hopefully not someone else's cabin.

What kinds of birds frequent your corner of the world? Do you have any funny (or scary) stories to tell about them? -- Margy

References: The Cornell Lab: All About Birds and The Audubon Field Guide (online)

45 comments :

  1. They are so powerful! We have several.

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    1. Just this week I heard another pecking away in the dense foliage, but couldn't find him. - Margy

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  2. Hello,
    The Flicker is one of my favorite birds, they have beautiful markings and colors. The owl painting was a great idea! Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, have a happy new week! PS, thank also for the comment on my blog.

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    1. Wish I could share more often, but being stuck in the city limits my exposure to critters. I did see a mother duck with her ducklings following along but I didn't have my iPhone camera handy. - Margy

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  3. Nice captures and interesting information.

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    1. Just lucky to be in the right place at the right time. - Margy

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  4. Interesting to see different birds to what we have here. Thanks for visiting my blog and your comments. Hopefully it won't be too long before we can all go travelling around again. Take care.

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    1. Birds and animals do vary, but sometimes it amazes me how similar things are around the world. - Margy

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  5. This one looks interesting! So did the big owl eyes work?

    I am trying to shoo away the rock pigeons from my balconies with a simple but effective remedy. Let's see

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    1. Not sure if it was the eyes, or all my yelling but it worked after several days of constant attention. - Margy

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  6. I'm not familiar with a flicker but he is an interesting bird. I've never had a bird try to build a home in my house, but every year I must remove wasp nests. Yuck.

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    1. We get yellow jacket paper wasp nests up at the cabin. I hate that too. I put out traps in May and they stay up all summer. - Margy

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  7. Good thing these big owl eyes finally worked! Oh dear!

    We have some bats behind the wooden gable cladding of our house. We have had very few mosquitoes since they have been living there! Symbiosis! :-)

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    1. We get bats in the summer too. Between the bats and swallows we don't have a mosquito problem. It's worse as you go into the forest, but out on the water with a breeze there are less of them. - Margy

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  8. That's a pretty bird, I think we had one of those who used to peck on the eave of our house very early every morning. After a few weeks it left.

    One time I had the windows open and the screen out and a bird flew in the house but flew back out once it figured out it wasn't out in the open anymore. Sure scared me!

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    1. That was really lucky to have it find the window to fly back out. - Margy

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  9. The scary owls idea is a good one! I've seen the big Pileated woodpeckers go to town on wood structures! Beautiful Flicker!

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    1. There are lots of woodpeckers here in the city as well as up the lake. - Margy

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  10. We have seen small birds trying to build a nest in the boat's exhaust vent or muffler. Big mistake!

    The weather here in TN is beautiful! Hope you'll go back to your cabin soon.

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    1. When we had our airplane it was important to check the engine compartment before every flight, especially during nesting season. When we parked outdoors we had pads to put in the openings to deter birds. - Margy

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  11. Sweet (and funny) bird tales. We see flickers both here and in Florida ... to me they look the same, but I guess the Florida one must be the southern or eastern variety. (I am a lazy bird watcher.) The nest deterrent was a cute idea and it’s good it worked. At our Florida cottage, I learned that both flickers and woodpeckers use their noisy beaks to communicate (and send courtship signals) because we have a pole outside our bedroom window. I like waking up to birdsong...bird drilling not so much. )

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    1. I can imagine how loud drilling on a metal pipe would be. The spot the Flicker up at the cabin chose was right next to the head of our bed. - Margy

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  12. We've been getting the birds that pass through, grey catbird, brown thrasher, indigo bunting, but haven't seen the flicker yet. I thought I saw it yesterday but it turned out to be the brown thrasher. Hoping those flickers haven't invaded your float home when you eventually get back to it.

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    1. I keep a "first sighting" list to remember when each bird species arrives. We love when the birds return in the spring. Winter is so quiet, especially at dawn. - Margy

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  13. I've never seen a Flicker. It looks interesting and a bit scary too.
    But I'm amazed at the techniques used to ward them off.

    Thanks so much for joining us last week, Margy.
    Have a great week ahead!

    https://natashamusing.com/2020/06/teach-peace-wordlesswednesday-wednesdaywisdom/

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    1. I like reading blogs to learn about birds, animals and activities from around the world. - Margy

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  14. Interesting story. It’s a bit surprising the birds fell for the painted owl eyes as entire statues of owls on roofs of houses often don’t seem to deter smaller birds. It must be the big size of those round eyes!! :) Well done!

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    1. I have a plastic owl out on the garden and it doesn't keep the birds away. Maybe the eyes didn't do it, but hanging bright objects in front of the desired location might have. That, and running and yelling at it each time I heard drilling. - Margy

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  15. My wife has put in a several bird feeders so we get robins, blue jays, all sorts of sparrows, mockingbirds and some we haven't id'd yet.
    Also, the squirrels in our yard are pretty plump on all the seed.

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    1. I loved watching birds at my feeders at the cabin. When my mother lived here in the Bellingham condo I had a feeder on the porch so she could watch the birds in the mornings when she woke up and was waiting for me to arrive to help her out of bed - Margy

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  16. How clever to draw owl eyes on alumonum to scare away the flicker! We sometimes hear owls hooting at night==I love the sound. I wish I could keep a bird feeder to attract more birds but we live close enough to the Colorado foothills that bears come down at night and eat the birdseed! Many have videos of them climbing trees and knocking down the bird feeder poles. We see many Magpies here and we also get pleated woodpeckers and mountain chickadees, crows and ravens

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    1. We hear owls all the time up at the cabin, but I haven't heard any in the trees outside our city condo. We do hear train whistles here. The tracks are miles away so the sound is more plaintive than annoying. - Margy

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  17. Fascinating to see birds from your corner of the world.

    Happy Wednesday!

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    1. Isn't that the fun part of blog reading? - Margy

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  18. I like flickers. Whenever a woodpecker attacks your house, check for insects. There are some that drill in wood and woodpeckers pound holes to eat them.

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    1. I know that drilling has multiple purposes; communication, feeding and nesting. This one was definitely a nesting effort. It's a common activity at cabins all over our lake. - Margy

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  19. Well, about ten days ago, a couple of starlings settled in the trees around our house.
    I read about starlings that they can mimic many noises: the howling of a cat, the crying of a child, and more.
    I whistled a few times in a certain way and ... the starling whistled the same way. It was very funny and I wanted to repeat the experience, but ... the rains came and the starling was never heard from again.

    Have a fine day, Margy!

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    1. How fun. We get small flocks of starlings to our cottonwood trees behind the condo. I've never seen one of the huge flocks with rhythmic undulating motion through the sky. That would be very special. - Margy

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  20. What a pretty bird! It's a shame they were attacking your house, but I hope he found a more suitable place to live.

    Thanks for being a part of 'My Corner of the World' this week!

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    1. We always hope it isn't someone else's cabin wall. - Margy

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  21. Very beautiful image with the sun behind the leaves and the little bird! A funny guest in your world!
    Happy WW and all the best!

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    1. We are lucky to have such a natural space to watch from our city condo window. - Margy

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  22. The older I get, the more I enjoy birds. Flickers got lucky in the name department.

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  23. What an interesting bird and beautiful too! I am glad you found a solution and the owl eyes worked.

    -Soma

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  24. This bird is new to me.
    Thanks for sharing.

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Thanks for stopping by. Comments, questions, and suggestions are always welcome. - Margy