Saturday 14 April 2012: Northern Flicker In Action
I returned to a spot this morning, where I had previously seen an abundance of Northern Flickers. I had not been able to get good photos the first time, but this time was such fun! They were located at the Trailhead of Rock Creek Park, in the Rock Creek neighborhood, out Hwy 26, about 10 miles west of Portland, Oregon. This park actually has a trail which travels under Hwy 26, so the noise is not what you would want for a nice walk in the woods, BUT the birds are amazing!!
First I spotted a group of 3 flickers in a tree, then a pair flew over across the street to the golf course, into a pile of sand, and put on quite a courtship ritual. Then they flew into a tree and proceeded to circle the trunk over and over again. It was so fun to watch, and I think you will enjoy the pictures.
I also found a site online which explains the courtship like this:
Courtship.--The courtship of the flicker is a lively and spectacular performance, noisy, full of action, and often ludicrous, as three or more birds of both sexes indulge in their comical dancing, nodding, bowing, and swaying motions, or chase each other around the trunk or through the branches of a tree. From the time of Audubon to the present day, many observers have noted and described the curious antics of this star performer. But I prefer to quote first from some extensive notes recently contributed by Francis H. Allen, as follows: "The courtship of the flicker is an elaborate and somewhat puzzling performance. Two birds face each other on the branch of a tree or cling side by side, though at a little distance apart, on the trunk, and spread their tails and jerk their heads about in a sort of weaving motion, frequently uttering a note that is peculiar to this performance, a wick-up or week-up. The head motion is a series of backward jerks with the bill pointing up at an angle of perhaps 60 degrees and the head at the same time swinging from side to side. Sometimes a short, low wuck is uttered from time to time during the performance. These bouts occur not only between male and female, but frequently between two males or two females.
To watch the unfolding of the dance, Click HERE to see my Flickr photos!