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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Indian Plums, Snickering Squirrel and the Elusive Northern Flicker

When I photographed the flowers of the Indian Plum earlier this spring I read that one rarely sees the fruit since it is a favorite food for wild birds. This is not surprising since it comes so early - right now there are no other wild fruits or berries to eat. I can also see why it is not a part of our diet - these lovely little fruits are only about the size of a pea. Shortly after photographing these I noticed the squirrel on the left below.

Why do I think the squirrel is snickering? I suspect it is because he knows I will fail once again to get a good clear photo of the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) (right). I have dozens of photos of parts of Northern Flickers. They are very shy and have an unerring sense of anyone watching them. They always manage to be partly hidden behind the trunk of a tree or a branch as in this photo and seldom perch for long in a wholly unobstructed fashion.
I might not be so obsessed with Northern Flickers if it were not for the tiny hearts that cover their breasts. (Click the photo to enlarge it and you will see what I mean.)


Dean Lewis said...

Great showing today !
The quality of light on the tiny Indian plums is beautiful.
And the heart-shaped chest markings on the Northern Flicker are remarkable. How cool is that?!

Something about those spots is reminiscient of an ermine skin worn by royalty, to me.
Too bad they are so elusive, and it's true they know what's watching them and will hide behind a branch.
They are a very good size and really magnificient, I think.
Light brown, black, grey, red and white all combined !

Dean Lewis said...

Oh ya, .. and yellow/gold on the underside of their tail and wings, hardly visible, except when they fly away !

JoJo said...

You want pics of Northern Flickers? Come to my house and shoot them pecking holes in my outer walls. I've been tempted to shoot them too, but not with a camera.

quillside said...

I never knew about the hears on the northern flickers. Shall have to be more observant. The plums are exquisite! love your photos.

Dean Lewis said...

JoJo, I seem to remember hearing about someone stretching a mesh-net across their home, slightly spaced out a foot or so that deterrred woodpeckers from getting at it.
A strategy, could take a lot of material I suppose. Better than shooting them.

Benjamin Madison said...

JoJo, if I was you I'd be wondering what they are doing on your walls - Flickers are insect eaters and if they are doing a lot of digging on your walls it may be a sign that you have some kind of insect problem there....

JoJo said...

We had the pest control people come out and we passed inspection w/ flying colours. The flickers seem to like pecking out the knotholes in the boards on that side. Then they build their nests in the wall. It's not as bad as last year, but still.