My Friend Flicker

Not the horse. (That was My Friend Flicka.) My friend Flicker arrived at the bird feeder station outside our dining room window when I got back from California. He was attacking the suet with savage intensity. But each time I snuck up to the window to take a picture surreptitiously, he bolted.

Meanwhile there was this new random sound coming from somewhere in the house that sounded like a metallic drilling. Loud! Bob noticed the same sound coming from the neighbor’s roof. It was Mr. Flicker playing woodpecker on some metal flashing. Go figure.

watercolor, white gouache in beige toned nature sketchbook

I thought at first it was a Sapsucker, but one of my new birdwatching friends was adamant that Sapsuckers only go for the insects in the sap of the tree and would not go for suet. Flicker’s a big flashy bird with a polk dotted chest and black dickie, and when it flies you can see the bright orange underside of its wings!

I’m a sucker for birds these days, though I couldn’t quite explain why I get so excited to see a new species. And yesterday I spent an hour practicing very quick-capture sketches of birds with the engaging John Muir Laws (online) in preparation for actually sketching them live and in motion. His steps 1-2-3 are supposed to make that possible. We’ll see!

Meanwhile there are other signs of spring of course. Like orchid frogs!

You might think I applied some kind of photo filter on my phone when I took this picture. I was walking across the lawn and saw something move.  This little guy measured about two inches long and was a master of camouflage. An hour later he’d changed colors to match the ground cover where he’s moved.

I would attempt to sketch him into my nature journal, but would I be able to even come close to those colors?! I was immediately catapulted into memories of the years I spent with two little boys, hunting tadpoles, frogs, toads, butterflies and more. So I borrowed my 2+ year old friend Ellis across the street to do some frog watching and hopping.

3 comments

  1. What a lovely lovely portrait of that noble bird! We have them in abundance here in British Columbia (the Northern Flicker), and indeed, just this morning I heard that telltale loud drilling on our chimney’s metal insert. The males do this during early Spring mating season to attract any interested females. I once saw our elderly neighbour across from us come racing out her front door in her nightie, pick up a stone and hurl it up at the Flicker going at it on her chimney insert, hahahaha. (she missed by a mile, and it didn’t budge). Beautiful painting!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. So that’s a male sending out his mating call and so cleverly taking advantage of the metal! I loved your story about the neighbor. Somehow knowing that the sound is that beautiful bird will keep me from needing to throw that rock in my nightie. I’d surely miss too!

      Liked by 2 people

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