Monday, May 14, 2012

Red-shafted Flicker

A female red-shafted flicker is hollowing out a nest in a cottonwood in a city park here in Montpelier, Idaho.

It took her about one-half hour to return to the nest after I parked close by.

Flickers are woodpeckers, and do an amazing job hollowing out nesting cavities with their beaks.

I had never seen behavior like this before.  She would bring a beak-ful of wood chips to the entrance of the nest and spin her head as she dropped them out, so that they wouldn't accumulate in a pile at the base of the tree.  This spinning motion is so quick that it is blurred in the photo.

Once she got the nerve to return to the nest, she ignored me and worked to enlarge the hole.  Here she is, just before the head-spin to drop the wood chips.

When she is done, the nesting cavity will be 13 - 16 inches deep.  The male normally helps the excavation, but may have been too scared to come around while I was there.

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