Monday, April 25, 2005

Springtime bird blogging

This weekend I watched as a northern flicker excavated a nest hole in a snag next to the driveway. Last year, this same pair of birds nested in this snag. After hearing chicks for several weeks, we noticed that the flickers seemed to be making their alarm call a lot. It took us three or four days to finally figure out the source of their distress, but one evening we found a Cooper's hawk perched high in a fir across from the nest hole. We scared it off by throwing a fir cone at it, but we never heard the chicks calling again. I was sure the flickers would try to find another spot.

I was surprised and a little awed watching the hen work. First, the hole would be a blank, but if you listened closely, you could hear a slight "tap-tap-tap-tap." Then, you would see her head, then her head and breast, and then, "foomf!" a bunch of woody debris would fly out to the side as she kicked it out of the hole. Lather-rinse-repeat.

In spite of cars moving past the nest several times a day, in spite of the fact that a hawk found them last year, they are trying again in this spot. We are going to be listening very carefully this year for distress calls, and hope they manage to fledge some chicks this year.


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