Saturday, January 26, 2013

Yellow-Shafter Flicker

The Northern yellow-shafted flicker is not an uncommon bird by any means. We had them in our yard when we lived in Ann Arbor, and we see them frequently around our property now. But it is less common to have them come to the feeders, so when they do I make that made dash for my camera.

The light was really nice, a bright but cloudy day. The suet was pretty much depleted, due in large part to those pesky starlings, who are pretty but quite a nuisance.

I just love this bird, and need to do a new drawing of one. I drew one years ago, 2007 or 2008, one of the first I did in pen and ink and colored pencil. My style has come a long way since then!

Such a tapestry of color and shapes. Each breast feather is dotted with black. The black bar coming off its mandible indicates that this is a male.

A nice look at the bright red "V" on the back of his neck, and how he's using his tongue to pick up bits of suet.

I was watching him through the lens try to swallow a large piece of suet. I was totally unprepared for when his tongue came whipping out of his mouth and snapped around his head like a lasso. I kid you not, it had to be at least 4 inches long. This was all I managed to get. He did it twice, and neither me nor my camera could catch it at its full length.

Flicker tongues really are 5 inches long!!

After going over the images I shot that day, I think I have my pose for a new piece.

I am heading to Florida this morning, a road trip with my mother to visit my father's mother, who turned 90 last November. I know that each trip could be the last time I see her, so I have to resist the urge to spend all my time stalking shore birds and waterfowl in the wildlife refuges and spend time with her. We will spend a day at Merritt Island NWR, and take a trip down the coast to Archie Carr NWR, and might stop at Pinckney Island NWR in South Carolina, where one of my favorite bloggers, Kelly at Red and the Peanut, spends a lot of time. Here's hoping for a life list bird or two!


  1. Gorgeous shot on a bird I've never had come to my suet feeders. Have fun in Florida!

  2. One beauty of a bird...may I paint him? should paint him!!