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Old Mar 13, 2011, 9:46 PM   #1
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This afternoon we were enjoying a quiet day at home, I was backing up pictures to DVD (hadn't done it in a month). All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like a jackhammer working on the house. The hammering didn't last long, a period of silence, then it started up again. That happened for about 5 minutes, a short burst of hammering then quiet for a minute or two. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity, put the DA*300 on the K7 and went outside, to get a shot of whatever was disturbing my afternoon.

The culprit:



This Red Shafted Northern Flicker was trying to peck through the spark arrestor on my chimney. I have no idea what he thought he was going to get up there!

He didn't like me taking pictures of him - I only managed these two shots before he took off, flying a short distance into one of the pine trees that I was shooting through. This one was taken as he was starting to take off, I thought it was funny.

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Old Mar 13, 2011, 10:02 PM   #2
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Could have been 6am, count your blessings, nice exposure against the bright sky

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Old Mar 13, 2011, 10:49 PM   #3
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What a great looking bird ! Funny story.
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 12:31 AM   #4
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He was making the noise to attract a mate and you disturbed him...
he is a beauty.
I have an topper on mine...and for some reason it attracts birds in the spring...they find a way to push in and get stuck in the fire place...have had 5 at a time in there. You know how fun it is getting them out? A chimney is like a yellowjacket trap for birds...they come down and don't go up...so got to hand catch them.
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 1:49 AM   #5
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Hi Harriet,

These are really great shots of the Flicker considering the apparent distance. This guy seems to be considerably more colorful than the Norther Flickers we have here.

Lisa is probably correct that he was probably trying to attract a mate -- and was probably feeling pretty good about finding such a good sounding board. . .

Good story!

Scott
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 5:54 AM   #6
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Our flickers (and several other woodpecker species) also find our chimney cap and our downspouts to be great places for drumming. The louder the racket, the farther their "mating invitation" can be heard. It's also somewhat of a territory call, and again, the farther it can be heard, the bigger the territory!

Very nice shots, especially considering the adverse lighting conditions.
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 2:13 PM   #7
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I'm now sorry that I disturbed him with my picture-taking, I didn't know that was their mating call. Flickers are among the prettiest of our common birds, they seem to be full time residents (I do occasionally see one in the winter). The red shafted type is apparently common in the west, and they are more colorful than the other northern type my guide talked about. I hope he finds a mate and brings up several little ones.

Lisa - our chimneys are required to have a mesh spark arrestor on them, which also stops birds from getting into them. I can imagine trying to capture 5 birds in the house, or trying to shoo them out the door (good luck with that!).

I was actually surprised how well it came out. The sky was cloudy but the K7 did a good job of balancing the dark trees with the brighter sky, keeping the bird pretty well exposed. I had to lighten them a bit, but not as much as I had expected to. The DA*300 also handled the difficult lighting nicely, such a wonderful lens.
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 9:20 PM   #8
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Get used to it, Harriet - woodpeckers mark their territories with their drumming - usually on tree trunks, but the louder the better. Back when I was in Florida, the Red Bellied Woodpeckers would beat on the metal drainpipes of the apartment buildings - it got pretty annoying, especially around 5AM. If this guy (it is a male - you can tell by his mustache) is setting up his territory, you are in for it! It is more a warning for other males to keep away, rather than a mating call per se.
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Old Mar 14, 2011, 9:52 PM   #9
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Thanks for the additional information. He's been around for a year or two (or another one just like him). I think I'd rather he drum on the chimney than on the house. Last summer he did that - I had the shade down on the window right by my computer and all of a sudden I heard him right outside the window. Startled me. When I raised the shade he took off.

Will the flicker scare off other woodpeckers? I used to see other woodpeckers several years ago (a white-headed woodpecker once, along with some more ordinary ones that I never got a close enough look at to figure out what they were), but not recently.
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Old Mar 15, 2011, 2:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post

Will the flicker scare off other woodpeckers? I used to see other woodpeckers several years ago (a white-headed woodpecker once, along with some more ordinary ones that I never got a close enough look at to figure out what they were), but not recently.
I don't think so. Flickers are primarily anteaters, foraging on the ground. They don't compete with other woodpeckers, except for nest cavities, but most can make their own new ones if their old ones are co-opted by other birds (including starlings and House Sparrows which are particularly hard on Acorn Woodpeckers).
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