What Kind of Bird is That?

Norther Flicker
Northern Flicker

Eliot’s proximity to the river, the Fremont Bridge, and the established trees in our yards and nearby parks makes it one of the better eastside habitats for birds and bird watching. This includes Cooper’s Hawks that periodically visit (and nest) in Irving Park, Peregrine Falcons that nest in the Fremont Bridge, and Red Tailed Hawks that try to take backyard chickens. I have been visited by Great Blue Herons eating fish out of my, now empty, pond.

Perhaps my favorite resident bird is the Northern Flicker. This is a large (between Crow and Robin sized) woodpecker that nests in tree cavities. It isn’t generally migratory, so it can be observed all year. It has a wide variety of interesting, and loud, calls that always attract my attention. Typically, I can find it on the tallest tree, chimney, or other object around. It also uses its beak to mark its territory, including hammering on the side of buildings and metal capped chimneys. It can peck holes in walls, which one did in one of our shingled walls. It isn’t unusual to spot one on the ground, and typically there will be another nearby. Keep an eye out for them.

Here is a picture from the Cornell University web site, which is a great resource for bird watchers (my picture of one raiding my backyard suet feeder didn’t come out very well). Northern Flickers are pretty birds to look with their dun coloration, red cheeks, spotted breast, barred (short stripes) wings and back; however, when they fly the underside of their wings is rust colored, which provides a flash of color that I presume gives them the name. They also have a white rump that is only visible when they fly.

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