Thursday, June 4, 2020

Female Flicker

5/17 - 5/29/20 female flicker

Our feeders are still up. Usually we take them down in the spring when the birds get better (probably more nutritious) offers elsewhere, but the occasional visitors are still entertaining us during these stay-at-home days, so we’ve left them up. We had heard that nesting females in spring need more fat, and indeed, our suet feeder is more popular than the seed feeder lately.

Last year I caught a male flicker’s bright red chevron on the back of its neck as it struggled to eat from the seed feeder, which is intended for much smaller birds. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been watching a female flicker dining from the suet feeder, which is much larger and more accommodating. Luckily for me, she tends to hang from the same side each time, so I was able to work on this sketch over the course of three days, often weeks apart, refining the gesture and adding details each time.

A first for us was observing a family of Bewick’s wrens several times. Mom and her four chicks (I say “chicks,” but they are nearly as large as she is) stand on the fence near the feeders. Mom flies up to the suet, grabs a beakful, then stuffs the gaping mouths of the four youngsters. We didn’t know that wrens feed their young outside their nest, so we’ve been delighted to watch this scene. I’m not sure I’ll be able to catch them with my sketchbook; they are so tiny and quick. But I’m happy that our feeders are still up.

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