Archive for September, 2012

Four Northern Flickers

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

September has begun with a return to very warm, humid, muggy weather. Late this morning, cicadas and grasshoppers sang under a sunny blue sky with big white clouds, and butterflies flew, but birds were remarkably quiet, even for this time of year. At first I heard not one at all. Then a few Cardinals peeped. Chickadees and Titmice fussed in the woods. The potato-chip call of a Goldfinch passed overhead now and then. The soft pik-a-tuk of a hidden Summer Tanager, the whispered spee of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. But mostly, the memorable parts of the day were seen, rather than heard.

In a large, grassy yard, in the shade of several pecan trees, four Northern Flickers raised their heads above the tall yard-grass to look around, like watchful grazing animals. Foraging with them in the grass were Mourning Doves, American Robins and Eastern Bluebirds. From where I stood, the Flickers’ heads looked round and mostly gray, with long pointed bills. Red crescents marked the nape of two, and a black moustache distinguished the cheek of one. Black bands on the chest curved above a warm-tan belly, thickly spotted with black. The backs were richly patterned with black on brown. They hunted in the grass, walking, leaning down to probe and feed, pausing to look up again. Chipping Sparrows flew up from grass along the roadside, and one quiet Northern Mockingbird perched in a shrub on the corner of the yard.