June 03, 2006

Today I Saw...

and heard a Northern Flicker. The Northern Flickers are the most common suburban and rural woodpecker on the Pacfic Northwest coast. Because their beaks are unable to penetrate hard woods, they spend a great of their time on the ground looking for dead or rotting logs and eating bugs. They can stretch their tongues out two inches past the tip of their beaks. The tip of the tongue is sticky and barbed - perfect for capturing bugs. Their call is described in our bird guide as a "piercing single pee-YEW!" And that is exactly what made me look up. But when I looked up the first thing I saw was a hummingbird sitting on the very top branch of a tree. I knew that noise didn't come out the hummingbird. I kept looking up but, like the guide book describes, the Flicker was on the ground - in front of Chandan's stairs picking bugs left and right. I grabbed the camera and held it steady for a long time as I shot. The sun was beating on me and I was dripping with sweat when it was all over. I had to hang out, leaning on the deck railing for several minutes in order to get the shots you see below (which were the best of a dozen). A small price for some pretty decent shots of this quirky woodpecker. By the way, this is an adult male.

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