A sharp-shinned hawk keeps chasing flickers in the yard; they yell at the effrontery and circle right back each time. A wren chatters alarm.

Ground fog in the corner of the meadow glowing faintly pink in the sunrise. A flicker flies out of the old den in the dead elm tree.

Have the flickers fledged? Their den hole gapes, silent. Is absence of evidence evidence of absence? A pileated woodpecker’s wild laughter.

Just audible over the tractor: a tanager’s hoarse song. The male flicker flies out of its nest hole carrying an offspring’s white fecal sac.

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 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.