Tuesday, September 21, 2010

My Friend Flicka - Northern Flicker



This Northern Flicker is female. Males have a black moustache.
     My parents had some knowledge of birds, which they imparted to us as children. Though declared with conviction, their information was frequently inaccurate. Additionally, my mother had an intense Maine accent which gave her "facts" another interesting twist. She often dropped 'Rs' and added them into words where they were not.
     Listening to what my parents said, then parroting it back to them, was a necessary skill I developed early on. I revered them and all that they said, plus, it was imperative that they be pleased. Regardless of anyone's motivations, I did develop an above average interest in birds which has carried me on an ever growing wave into adulthood. To be completely accurate, I should say my interest has continued well into middle age. Though I'm that old, I can still hear my parents in my head like it was yesterday. I can clearly hear my mother in my mind every time I see a Northern Flicker.
     On seeing a Northern Flicker, my mother would shout enthusiastically, "Look! There's a Flick'a!" I have to confess that until I was well into my thirties, I thought that bird was a "Flick'a," not a Flick-er. Confident that I knew the bird, I never actually looked it up. Had I, I would have seen the 'r' at the end. Compounding my youthful confusion was a TV show. During the late fifties through the mid sixties, there was a popular TV series, "My Friend Flicka." It was based on a novel written in 1941 by Mary O'Hara about a boy and his horse. I'm sure you remember this, whether you want to admit it or not. Look in the mirror, you too are probably at least as old as I am. The horse's name was Flicka, which in Swedish means "little girl." Of course, in my house, the horse's name was "Flick-er" The mispronouciation of the bird's name and the horse's name was a confusing jumble of information delivered to me during my formative years. Worse yet, I have terrible survivor guilt, because I have repeated all of that misinformation many times over to many people, including my own children and did so with my mother's same imperious conviction. Please forgive me, I just didn't know. I hope I didn't drive anyone to psychotherapy or ruin any one's life.

     The Flick'a is a medium-sized woodpecker that's native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. The Caymans had a lovely postage stamp with an image of a Flick'a. Unlike most woodpeckers, Flick'as prefer to feed on the ground. Ants make up most of their diet. Their tongue extends two inches beyond the bill and has barbs for pulling ants out of their holes. They are often seen on lawns poking in the grass for insects. Flick'as are also one of the few woodpecker species that migrate. Because they migrate, there are more of them here now than all summer long. They have a loping flight, common amongst woodpeckers. When they fly, the yellow tail feathers and undersides of their wings that gives them the name "Yellow-Shafted Flicker" can be seen. The Yellow-shafted are common in the eastern U.S., but in the west, there are Red-shafted Flickers. It was once believed that the Yellow-shafted and Red -shafted were different species. They are, however, both Northern Flickers. Where their ranges overlap, they hybridize. There are over 100 common names for the Northern Flicker. Among them are: Yellowhammer, clape, gaffer woodpecker, heigh-ho, harry-wicket, wake-up, walk-up, wick-up, yarrup, and gawker bird. Many of these names are attempts at imitating some of its calls. I'll add that in Maine, we call it a Flick'a.

19 comments:

  1. Hi Robin...I'm going to try this again!!
    Everytime i try to leave a comment on your glog something happen and in a flicker it is gone (Pun intended) lol
    The Flick-er or -a it is a beauty and are great to have around if you have an ant problem!! : }
    I remember My Friend Flicka "ya"!!
    Nice photos of the Flick-a

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we have a Northern Flicker Awareness Group on Facebook if you love these birds :-) It's a big Flicker lover group... You are welcome to join.. Here is the link :
      https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/515612818475653/

      Delete
  2. Thanks, G.G. I've wondered where you've been! I've missed not hearing from you.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh I LOVE the "Flick'a". What a gorgeous bird! And I can sooooo relate to the accent issue. I grew up in Rural WV. Where there are "tarsome" flies. I always thought that was a type of fly - a "tarsome" fly. But as i got much older - I realized my mom was saying - tiresome fly.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love these birds!!!!!! Wow awesome images, Robin!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we have a Northern Flicker Awareness Group on Facebook if you love these birds :-) It's a big Flicker lover group... You are welcome to join.. Here is the link :
      https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/515612818475653/

      Delete
  5. Kerri,
    That was a real knee slapp'ah! Oh so funny about the tarsome flies. That's a keeper. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  6. afinephoto, thanks so much for that!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You really captured the Flicker's beauty. Coincidently, just prior to reading this blog I was in front of the kitchen window amazed at a woodpecker tediously working its way into a neighbor's tree trunk and remarked how rare that scene is. I have only seen a woodpecker a few times in my life.
    HG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello There,
      we have a Northern Flicker Awareness Group on Facebook if you love these birds :-) It's a big Flicker lover group... You are welcome to join.. Here is the link :
      https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/515612818475653/

      Delete
  8. Nice shots. I am trying to get Tom, my swift, to learn a few tricks. He's very bright, but a bit slow on flying since I have only my one room apartment and I have no fairy dust to show him how.
    Jan Sand
    September 19

    ReplyDelete
  9. great blue herons are my very favorite bird. every sighting feels like a blessing. seeing three at once? i dont even know if i could live through that! a delightful post, robin. thank you.
    jane bourne ultimatum smithie
    September 19, 2010 04:38 PM

    ReplyDelete
  10. How embarrassing I hope he isn't scarred for life! I loved the pictures and the story that went along with it.
    Lunchlady 2

    ReplyDelete
  11. Herons are one of my favourite birds. We see them in this part of the world too in September. I have a story about one. Maybe you've inspired me to tell it ...
    Scarlett Sumac

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Scarlett we have a Northern Flicker Awareness Group on Facebook if you love these birds :-) It's a big Flicker lover group... You are welcome to join.. Here is the link :
      https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/515612818475653/

      Delete
  12. Robin,
    Lovely as always.
    What a crack up! The way the other Heron is looking at him as he flounders is priceless.
    I love juveniles!
    o'stephanie

    ReplyDelete
  13. "...a felony of spasticity.." priceless.
    O'Kathryn

    ReplyDelete
  14. exquisite photography, and a wonderful love displayed for your subject and your art. I can see I have a lot of catching up to do with discovering all your talent.

    (come visit my http://open.salon.com/blog/bbd/2008/10/21/to_all_the_birds_ive_loved

    but I fear they can't match what you do)

    thanks...reading more now.
    bbd
    December 03, 2010 11:17 PM.

    ReplyDelete
  15. New Diet Taps into Pioneering Plan to Help Dieters Get Rid Of 20 Pounds within Just 21 Days!

    ReplyDelete