Taking a break from working on a writing deadline, I loaded up my binoculars and camera and headed down my street toward the park. I didn’t make it farther than the end of the block.
Atop the light pole on the corner was a Northern Flicker, calling loudly to an unseen companion (who joined him later).
Then he made his way vertically down the pole, investigating various holes tiny and large.
Let’s look at that last photo a little more closely:
Woodpecker tongues are really amazing. The structure supporting them wraps all the way around their heads, in some cases looping around their eyes.
This gives most woodpeckers lots of tongue with which to explore tree cavities—and that means they have to spend less energy on excavation. Then when they encounter delicious bugs, their elegant barbed tongue is sticky enough to grab the bug and bring it back to where the woodpecker can enjoy his meal.
But that’s not all we can learn by observing what’s happening on our block! Let’s go back to the flicker’s exploration of the second hole. Did you notice anyone else?
These two Black-capped Chickadees flew in together, at first scolding the flicker and then remaining silent as they watched him poke around in their prospective nest holes. They waited until he left, then went back in — maybe to assess what damage he might have done with that huge beak and strange-looking tongue?
I haven’t seen the chickadees at these holes for the past couple of days; maybe they’ve decided to search for nest cavities on a less popular tree trunk.
* * *
This afternoon, lured by irresistible sunshine during this extraordinarily wet April, I headed back out towards the forest. Nope.
I’d heard frantic robin cheeping, so I figured a hawk was somewhere nearby. Another drama in our little corner of the city? Yes – but with different players. As I walked out the door, I turned away from the forest, toward the robin calls…just in time to see a crow fly off with a lovely blue egg in its beak.
Hope and tragedy, all in a few short days on one short city block.
What’s happening on your street?
P.S. – There’s a sequel to this story! Check the next post, “Blockwatch Success,” to see what happened.