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 on the whole flicker-black snake saga at Via Negativa.
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.