Thursday, February 9, 2017

Northward Migration

Lady Flicker, Wikimedia Commons
Yellow-Shafted Flickers stop here for suet in late January and early February, flying from southern Texas and northern Mexico to their summer breeding grounds in Canada. I watch them compete with the lordly Pileated Woodpecker for the same suet cake. The much larger Pileated who lives here year-round flaps his wings and waves them away, but the flickers are clever, and they simply wait beneath the suet cage for pieces that fly down to the leaf carpet while the bigger bird drills and gobbles his share. The Flicker is the only woodpecker who will eat from the ground.

Yellow-Shafted are the easterners, and Red-Shafted are the
westerners. They are in my view the most elegantly clothed of all the migrating birds. Wish they lived here all year round. The goldfinches at the seed feeder are still their winter olive green but now with a mention of yellow. The smaller picture shows a little Downy Woodpecker, in a flutter of striped wings, boldly trying to nip the suet while the male Pileated clings to the suet cage with his big crusty feet, and I decided after trying hard and getting no decent photos that this is the year (after 15 years) to set up a bird camera with remote shutter control to capture not only their individual beauty but their interactions.

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