A half-hour after sunrise, the flickers arrive at the elm from different directions, copulate twice, and go back to work on the nest hole.
The hole in the dead elm is emitting puffs of dust: a flicker cleans house. Just beyond: scarlet tanager! Then the cardinal’s humdrum red.
Two male flickers fighting over the dead elm and its den-hole joust in the garden, jabbing and feinting with their long bills.
The flickers that have been hanging around the yard copulate next to the old den hole in the elm snag—the one a black snake raided in 2012.
A squirrel climbs the elm with a mouthful of dried leaves, goes into the old flicker hole and turns to face out, ready for other contenders.
A squirrel creeps up to the flicker hole in the dead elm, but another squirrel pops out chittering and gives chase through the treetops.
A black snake leaves the flicker nest-hole and begins a perilous descent of the smooth trunk, a bulge in its midsection from all the eggs. * See my blog post […]
The flickers trade places, and the male, fresh from sitting in the darkness, perches for a few seconds on a dead branch bent like a hook.
An intruder—another flicker—quietly descends the elm, pokes its head in the nest hole and is promptly chased off by the current occupant.
It’s not too hot to fight: a robin drives a chipmunk from the lilac. A minute later, a flicker drives a downy woodpecker off its den tree.
A pileated woodpecker lands on the dead elm right beside the flicker den hole and knocks twice. A flicker pokes her head out. He flies off.
A muffled knocking from inside the dead elm. A flicker’s head pops out of a hole and flings a billful of wood chips into the sun.
Thin fog. A flicker is excavating a den hole in the dead elm on the other side of the yard, his head almost disappearing into the tree.
Two days before my friend from England arrives, my inner voice sounds like a tour guide: Those are flickers. Hear how they croon their name?
The sun glows faintly through the clouds like a coin at the bottom of a fountain. Three flickers bicker above the springhouse.
Morning full of the cries of woodpeckers—part ululation, part rusty hinge. Like the sounds the trees make in a winter wind, speeded up.