So, now that it’s Spring, I decided to take my camera down to the Don Valley Brickworks again, to see what I could see. I knew the Red-Winged Blackbirds were out again, and since they are one of my favourite birds I thought I could probably find a few.
I did find them, lots of them, but I also found this little treasure.
(There are four photos in this gallery. Click any photo to launch.)
Strictly speaking, these birds are called Northern Flickers – the ones in the eastern part of the continent have yellow under their wings and tail, and the ones in the west have red, which led to them being called Yellow-Shafted and Red-Shafted, respectively. They are a type of Woodpecker, but they don’t behave much like other Woodpeckers – they prefer the ground to tree-trunks. Like Woodpeckers, however, they have stiff tails that they use to brace themselves against tree-trunks, and they drum with their beaks to communicate.
They are fairly common, but incredibly inconspicuous and incredibly shy. More often than not you only see them as they fly away. (In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if they got their name because all you see is a flicker, and then they’re gone!) They are pale brown with lots of large speckles, a greyish head with a horizontal red strip across the back, and a black crescent across the chest. You can only really see the yellow on their wings and tail when they fly, although sometimes there’s a thin stripe visible – as there is in a couple of my photos.
When I first saw this pretty bird at the top of the tree I thought he was a juvenile Robin – they’re about the same size and also very speckled. It wasn’t until I got a look through my camera that I realized he was a Flicker. He stayed up at the top of the tree, but the tree itself was fairly close to the side of ravine, so I was able to get up high enough to get some decent photos. It was a very breezy day – the photos were taken over the course of about five minutes, but you can see how much the clouds moved around in that short time. At one point there was a gust of wind that knocked Birdie off balance, and I managed to get look at the yellow underside of his wing.