Lathrop’s PG-Rated Bird Walk

by Barbara Walvoord

To greet spring birds, the Land Conservation Committee has already sponsored two bird walks, and one to come (Thurs., May 19, 8 a.m., at north campus meeting house, led by resident Judy Hyde). 

A PG-rated moment occurred on the east campus, when we saw two northern flickers going at it in a dead tree at the edge of the south field behind Mulberry Lane.

To win his lady love, our flicker might have had invite her, and defend his territory, by drumming on objects with his bill. Metal makes the loudest sound: one northern flicker in Wyoming could be heard drumming on an abandoned tractor from a half-mile away. Our flicker might be the only creature who mourns the upcoming removal of an old metal washing machine and a manure spreader from our land.

Our male flicker might also have had to chase away a rival in a “fencing duel.” While the lady Guinevere observes from the stands, two males face each other on a branch, bills pointed upward, and bob their heads in a figure-eight pattern, calling wicka-wicka.

Our flickers have also had to survive their species’ steep decline–nearly 50% between 1966 and now.  Our Lathrop land offers trees for mating, dueling, nesting, and drumming, as well as lawns and fields that contain the flickers’ main food–ants and beetles that a flicker digs up with its curved bill and laps up with its long tongue. We help our flickers by keeping pesticides off our lawns and fields, and by removing invasive plants, which support far fewer insects than native plants.

See a list and short description of all the birds we saw on the Kestrel walk:


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