Backyard bird #41 this morning: a Northern Flicker!
I was heading out on the morning dog walk through the woods to the back field when I scared it up from the ground and snapped a quick photo before it flew off.
Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage. On walks, don’t be surprised if you scare one up from the ground. It’s not where you’d expect to find a woodpecker, but flickers eat mainly ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bill. When they fly you’ll see a flash of color in the wings – yellow if you’re in the East, red if you’re in the West – and a bright white flash on the rump.
You can see they are in the woodpecker family when comparing with another morning sighting…
A male Red-bellied Woodpecker feasts alone (on homemade suet dough) after scaring off the Blue Jay that was here first.
A female Rose-breasted Grosbeak watches us from a maple tree near the back deck and bird feeders. My husband was cooking dinner on the grill – a delicious chicken and sausage paella on the new Kamado Joe, in fact.
Some birds were bold enough to come to the feeders when we were a few feet away…
A couple of dauntless downies, males, on either side of a cake of suet.
The grosbeak repositioned to the top of the blackberry arbor, but wouldn’t come closer for her dinner until we went inside.
These chunky birds use their stout bills to eat seeds, fruit, and insects. They are also frequent visitors to backyard bird feeders, where they eat sunflower seeds with abandon.
There have been a pair of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks visiting for a few weeks this summer, probably nesting nearby. I notice the male at the feeder much more often, but maybe because his flashy red and white chest makes him much more noticeable.