Monday, November 1, 2010
The voice of the Northern red-shafted flicker is what the beginning of fall sounds like here in Sonoma County. This year I heard the first flicker in August, which seemed a bit early, but now, in mid-October, it's hard to go anywhere in Howarth Park without hearing one or more flickers calling out to one another. My ears led me to this dapper fellow in an open part of the park with scattered Blue oak (Quercus douglassii), one gray day. I started to draw him with a fountain pen but it didn't work out the way I wanted so I switched over to ball-point and then got carried away by the whole scene, not just the bird. Thus, an inky ghost of a Flicker watches over the scene on the left side of the image.
Although the flicker is a woodpecker it's commonly seen on the ground, foraging for insects. This one was foraging in some dead wood high up in an oak and stayed a good long while. Up to 45% of a flicker's diet is ants, along with other insects, and in winter, some nuts, seeds and berries.
Here in the western part of North America, you're most likely to see the red-shafted flicker, while in the east the yellow-shafted Northern flicker is more common.
More about flickers:
Chipper Woods Observatory