Skittish

A close-up view of the face of a female northern flicker

I loved the little woodpeckers in the woods behind our house when I was growing up but I didn’t discover flickers until I got into birds & photography in graduate school. I put my neophyte bird guide skills to the test as I tried to identify the bird making a ruckus in the tree outside my apartment. I found my mark and have loved flickers ever since.

The race we typically see in the west, the red-shafted flicker, is slightly different from the race I first met in the east. I have long hoped to get a close-up of the red-shafted male with his spectacular red mustache, and one was calling out from the nearby trees when I photographed this female at Ridgefield, but he never joined her down in the grass. She gave me great looks as she fed in the rain, however, and I was thankful for the opportunity as flickers are usually pretty skittish.

We even have them in our yard, they are a particular favorite of our resident bird-watcher Emma, and she and Sam and I got a great look from my office this afternoon as a male bathed in our birdbath. No way to get pictures without disturbing him, I can’t park my car in the backyard and photograph him Ridgefield-style. But he gave us a nice long look at his feathers as he splayed them about in the water and seemed nonplussed by his furry fan chirping at him from the cat tree.

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