Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Writer-in-Residence: Part Two

Today, sun. Lots of it. The meadow held the warmth all afternoon, the air hot enough to bring up thoughts of swimming. Thoughts only and then quite fleeting. I wouldn't even stick a tiny toe in the river; it is galloping for the coast at what looks like several knots an hour to me.

The sun made for some true basking on the porch though, watching red-shafted northern flickers (Colaptes auratus cafer) investigate the eucalyptus, stab for ants in the grass and dash around, with orange wings, white body in the air. Otherwise, the flicker is one fine dapper dandy of a dresser: soft grey basic coat, like dress-up flannels, with a tidy black ascot at the throat, a speckled waist coat and a striped jacket over that. The male sports a flamboyant red mustache-- or is it lipsitck from his lover? He only needs the sporty fedora ... with one of his own feathers in the brim.  My camera sucks at getting bird pix (no real telephoto, slow as molasses) so I'm posting a link to about a thousand pictures of the creature.

In contrast, I just have to say, those Acorn Woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) are too much. As I said, they look clownish, with white eyes in a half-mask of white, a black bill and red topi. In flight they remind me of the Harlequin, black wings with a wide white stripe, a black back but a white rump. From the rear, as they fly away from me, they seem to be making wing-angles in the air; flying towards me, they just seem....goofy.

This is by far the best photo I found online, at Steve Velo's pix.
These are very interesting birds, residing in sizeable groups of 4 or 5 or more, and sometimes several groups at a time.  They are larder-hoarders, hiding acorn like squirrels in granaries by drilling holes into old trees,  stumps, the side of the water tower, then stuffing acorns in the holes, which the birds defend against all comers. Pretty fascinating.
We think of it as storage, maybe they think of it as art.

Jeepers, sounds like our family, stuffing things in boxes and bundles and defending them against anyone with plans to "organize." Must have some woodpecker in our DNA.


  1. In the northeast, we are moving from the moon of the sugar maple to the moon of the spring peepers, although there has been some overlap. Last weekend,after dusk, I found myself next to a woodcock down behind Chets Dog house. I new he was there because I could hear his buzz like call, but the was no way to see him in th failing light. It was that brisk, damp coolness that almost has its own oder, as the planets and Orion appeared.

  2. lovely description, put me right there! the moon of the spring peepers, eh? indeed, you brought that smell right back to me, of the damp coolness, that kick-off to spring.

  3. I definitely have woodpecker in my DNA.

  4. for me, that would be woodpecker from one side, squirrel from the other. You don't wnat to know the condition of either my garage or my basement. Thank god, we can't store anything in the attic....


Noise makers!