Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Four-of-a-kind Full House

Northern Flicker family (c) John Ashley
Four juvenile Northern Flickers in their crowded nest cavity
I knew this would happen, given my previous luck with these things. While I was working out of town over the weekend, I missed the moment when our neighborhood Northern Flicker family finally fledged and left their nest. I haven't seen the parents or youngsters for several days now.

I'd been watching the family for a few weeks, ever since the chicks were big enough to climb up the inside wall of their nest cavity and peek outside at the big wide world. That also gave them a better platform to beg for more food. Flickers have a long beak that makes their stare seem extra intense somehow. And as soon as a parent lands nearby with food, the hungry teenagers start making a buzzing, grinding, growling sound. Most un-birdlike. The begging sounds stop just as fast when the parent flies off.

Eventually, the fully-feathered offspring just can't stand to wait around any longer. They make the leap out the front (and only) door, usually to follow one of the parents around and keep begging to be fed. Watching their parents gather food helps to jump-start their innate foraging skills, and then they're on their way.