Posts Tagged ‘red-shafted flicker’

I leaned back in the deck chair, tapping my pen on my notepad. Ninety-degrees, slightly humid – the sort of day that make me feel torpid and I have so much to do. List making: things to do in the early morning when it is still cool (how to fit a whole Sunday into the relative cool of the morning?).
We don’t get many days or weeks like this here. I savor it.
I have the water running on the island. I am using one of the old yellow whirly-gig sprinklers I collected from my father’s back yard in 2011. It’s a good sprinkler and covers a good distance, even when I am also running the sprinkler hose on the border flower bed, as I am doing at this moment.
Harvey is somewhere in the back, as far away from the flying water as he can get. He has an adverse reaction to getting wet, even when he is sweltering. He’s hoping to find another rat in the yard (I am hoping he killed the only rat in the yard, back on the 4th of July).
A flutter and a flash of feathers crosses my vision, right to left. The bird swerves toward me, corrects, and gently lights on the island at the edge of the artificial rainfall.
It is a young Northern Flicker. Red-shafted Flicker in my original bird guide, but now lumped with the eastern Yellow-shafted Flicker into one species: Northern Flicker. The western version has red wing shafts.
His feathers are light brown, spotted. There’s a neat red “Vee” at the back of his head, perfectly shaped. His eyes are dark, round, attentive. A “moustache” of red feathers graces his head, back from his long, curved beak: only the males have a “moustache”. He keeps one eye on me and uses the other eye to hunt in the low bushes and flowers for tiny insects. Ants. He is, pardon the pun, making a killing.
He stays away from the rain, working the hazelnut mulch along the edge, not five feet from where I am sitting. I can see him breathing.
The song sparrow alights on the other side of the Hawthorne, in the rain, his tail flipped up like a wren’s tail. He hops boldly forward, notices the larger bird, and flutters up into the safety of the Hawthorne..
The Flicker stays for long minutes,. hunting ants and gnats, drinking water from up-turned hazelnut shells. I slowly move my hand to my drink and he hops into the rain. He holds for a short second and then flies off to the fence, alarmed that I had moved.
He preens and shakes off the water while he sits atop the fence. Then he spies a spider and tops off his dinner.
He is gone before I can think about retrieving my camera for photos.

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