Search because it has a song...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Feeding time...

Male Northern Flicker rests outside his nest after feeding.
His toes are so sweet!
So, it started last season when we saw the Northern Flickers return to a cavity nest in the birch tree across the street. The previous year we had watched them carve the nest out of a dead limb on the tree, and were amazed at how many people walked right past this display without even noticing! Birch shavings spewing out of the little hole left a little blond pile on the green grass below, and when the birds themselves flew around, it was quite a distraction...
A brown bird, just smaller than a small crow and from the woodpecker family, with the brightest orange undercarriage I have ever seen. The first time I have ever seen a Flicker feather, I was riding my bike up Manitoba street and there were a few blowing across the street. I thought they were dyed orange feathers and wondered why they were there... I got off my bike to gather them up, when I found him in the street at the side of the road. His long black beak had blood on it so i knew he was dead. He was the most beautiful bird I had ever seen in real life. I picked him up and put him in my basket and buried him under the lilac tree in the backyard of the little house we were living in at the time.
Now I see them everywhere. I have learned they do tend to get killed by urban encroachment, but are really fighting to adapt. They feed on the ground, so they get hit by cars, and poisoned by all the crap people thoughtlessly use around the house and in the garden and on the lawn. Some reports say that domestic cats are to blame for a decrease in the bird population. I say bull*^$t. Every cat everyone has ever known could have gone out and killed birds all day long, and the numbers would still be billions less than what humans have done! Don't blame cats- it's just stupid.
Female Northern Flicker: photo of her moving her own egg.
     One afternoon last year, we were coming home from walking the dogs when we saw the female move 5 eggs, from this cavity to another one east of here a block. After that, we only saw them occasionally- almost like this was a tree for respite and peace from at least 5 baby hatchlings... all jammed into one cavity!
     This year I kept my camera at the ready, caught the mating rituals, nest claiming and breeding take place. A few days after we saw the breeding, we caught the birds moving their eggs!

video
... and then another mating ritual! We watched and knew they must be laying more inside this cavity nest too. There was always one of the birds in the cavity nest at all times before they moved the eggs, and now again.. One would fly up and roost on the entry, the other would leave just after one landed. As you saw if you watched the above video....
Male landing on entrance to cavity...
      Two weeks later they are now busier than ever gathering food and going in and out of the nest with great regularity. Now there's still almost always someone around, but not always inside the cavity like when they were first sitting. The mama sits outside the cavity and has a long bath in the sun in the middle of the afternoon. She fluffs up her polkadot feathers and preens each one. It's adorable. They are such beautiful birds... we really have to think about what we are doing to nature.
Male Flicker returning to the nest.
Their are just so pretty to watch, and hard working...

There is serious talk about a coal mine starting on Vancouver Island in pristine wilderness. Yes, a coal mine, starting up - and no, it's not 1911. It's a hundred years later and we have alternatives, but who needs those? 
Instead, at the Raven Mine, they want to mine the coal, disturbing all that is sacred, destroying water and ecosystems for profit. This is a very serious problem for us. Not because it's cold up here in Canada and we need it to keep everyone cosy after hockey on the pond... no - someone is selling that coal to China. That's right to China, because $$ doesn't give a shit about the planet in China. Poor China, barely seems to care about China. 
   This is a very serious for everyone on the planet. British Columbia has a duty to the rest of the planet to set an example, and we are about to f*&@k it up on a global level. For money that will never line the pockets of anyone who will use it for any good. Not out of desperation or as a last resort. Just because that's how corporations roll....
 Readers, we need to stop this mine, and I am pretty sure we can, for once stop the big fat greedy wheel of disillusionment from cutting through our part of the rainforest.
     Who's with me?

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