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Sunday, September 20, 2009
Only occasionally do I wish that I were more of a morning person. Days like today are one of those. The air was cool but the sun bright and the space between the house and the aspen trees was filled with birds. They were engaged in various occupations, notably a member of the woodpecker family was knocking loudly on the wood trim of our house. OK, I'm not so happy about that.
I saw and heard a house wren, sparrows, robins, starlings (sigh- not exactly a quality bird), the guilty woodpecker-- a downy, and the fairly regular morning visitor-- the yellow-shafted Flicker. I've been trying to get a picture of one all summer to show you. In fact, I thought that I had posted a rather poor picture of one this spring, but I guess I must have found something better to use the day I was thinking of it.
The Flicker is actually a woodpecker. It's kind of large, larger than a big robin. They love to hide in the edge of the trees and walk out into the lawn. I often hear them before I see them. Their voice isn't very melodic; the best way I can describe it is that they sound like the squealing of a rusty gate hinge! Since none of the pictures I got today is really great either, I had to decide which one to show you more closely. The blurry one above is at least good to show you the black bib the Flicker wears. (Don't confuse it with the Meadowlark which also has a black bib, but the Meadowlark is mostly yellow)
So after I had been chasing the Flicker around the tree and lawn with my lens for a while, (how do the birds know where you are, and manage to keep a branch between you and the camera?) it became engrossed in banging some insects out of this rotting log, and I choose to bring this one in closer. You can see the red stripe around the back of its head, the long beak, and the light striping on its back.
Finally, I took a picture of a couple of feathers that I had collected some time in the past. These show why this is called the "yellow-shafted" Flicker. There is a "red-shafted" variety found in the western US.
For some reason I can't really explain I really just like the Flicker. Hope you do too!
See Meadowlark- A Glimpse