Posted by: atowhee | March 30, 2022


And that is the brightest moment of a quiet spring day. I went back to the oak where I first noticed the flicker chiseling a new nest hole yesterday. The work continued. Both flickers were at the site. Courtship, drumming, the long sequence of sharp notes–all may be over for now. An occasional sharp single note will be heard repeatedly through the nesting season and summer to follow. Now–domestic duties dominate. The nest cavity is the task at beak (since flickers keep nothing “at hand”). I stood beneath the oak and looked up. The sky-high chiseler would work chips loose, them grab them with its beak and throw them over the shoulder. Many littered the mud and plants along the creek bank. A few came down upon me so I had a chip on my shoulder, courtesy of the master woodworker “over my head” (in every meaning of that phrase). Though I was at the base of the nest tree the chiseler, the woodwork went on and I was beneath it (physically, socially).

This is how it looks when the chips are down:

See the slender little flying oblong to the left of the bird’s head? A wood chip flicked away:

When I revisited the site this afternoon it was the female who was working inside the cavity:

As if you needed another reason to love oak trees.

Doesn’t this make you feel chipper? Ready for tomorrow?


  1. That’s really neat that you get to watch a flicker in action. I hear our pair drumming but haven’t found a nearby nest hole yet.

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