Nature (Published on TBNWeekly.com - March 2,
The flight of the northern flicker You know that moment after the rains, when the clouds
begin to melt away and, in a split second, the leaves turn from drab-gray to
Where once the bark of a tree appeared in damp, lifeless blacks and browns, the sun
reveals chartreuse moss, orange and blue-gray lichen, plus a whole new dimension of
nooks and crannies. As the light casts vertical shafts on prisms of moisture, as
translucent petals spread to capture the suns warmth, your eyes widen to take
it all in.
As each moment passes a new moment is formed. What we thought as being one thing is
replaced by another.
And so it was when I took a second look at a plain looking brown bird on a nearby
tree. I was around 10 years old. The morning had begun with a thick fog after a
nighttime drenching rain. Water dripped upon my shoulders while my boots stained wet.
My mood that day matched the dreariness of the weather. I walked quietly and
Just then a birds song captured my attention, a loud wicker, wicker, wicker
that penetrated every inch of the forest. I moved closer. I could see a red band at
the back of the birds grayish head. It had black bars and spots on its
He hammered at a crevice in a nearby tree extracting a fairly large sized ant. I
quietly moved a little closer when he caught sight of me and burst into flight. In
that flash of a moment, the northern flicker became my favorite bird.
At this same instant, the sun suddenly broke between the clouds reaching the
darkened leaves, transforming them into translucent yellows and paper thin greens.
Long shafts of sunlight stabbed through the fog. The flicker spread its wings to
reveal the same kind of unexpected surprise, for tucked underneath those drab wings
and tail, bright yellow flashed as if a painter had spilled his brush of sunlight.
For short distances, the flickers flight was a series of undulating body
motions, but when he decided to fly over the field, he flew with the grace of a
The large, active northern flicker, Colaptes auratus, formally known as the
yellow-shafted flicker, is a woodpecker that lives in all of eastern North America,
including northern Canada, over to Alaska, east of the Rockies, and is very similar
to the gilded flicker that lives in the southwestern United States and the
red-shafted that lives west of the Rockies. These three types of flickers used to be
separated by open plains but now cross over, interbreeding combining features of all
The males have black mustaches, the breast on male and female is pale buff to yellow
with small black crescents, the head is beige to gray with a red patch at the back.
Females lack red or black moustachial stripe.
The well-established northern flicker returns to the same breeding grounds year
after year. If you hear a drumming on your roof or siding it just might be a male
flicker trying to attract a mate. Once the couple is paired, the mother usually lays
six to eight white eggs. Both parents take part in the rearing of the babies.
Flickers prefer wooded areas but have established themselves with great success in
suburban areas, as well. Like all woodpeckers, flickers can be found searching for
food in the trees, but you may also catch a glimpse of this bird ground-feeding. No
human could see one of these beautiful birds without taking second notice.
As each moment passes, a new moment is formed. What we thought as being one thing is
replaced by another. For in that moment that young girl stood under a sodden tree on
rain-soaked ground, and the sun broke through the canopy to warm her forehead, so was
the little brown bird who opened his wings of sunshine and warmed a childs
heart and imagination forever ... back to nature.
Karen can be reached at MyMuddyPawsStudio@gmail.com.