Monday, March 23, 2009

It's Not What I Thought It Was


Well Friends, I'll just tell you this crazy story ---like it is!! Yesterday, I was outside watching the birds when I saw these two Northern Flickers up HIGH in a tree 'talking' to one another!!!! They were so far away, I wasn't even sure what kind of birds they were until I got my binoculars. I was so excited ---so George got out the camera and took a gazillion pictures for me. We watched those two birds for the longest time. They weren't really making any noise--but they were dancing around and their heads were bobbing up and down. I even think that their beaks met a few times. (Wish I had taken a video so that you could see for yourself.)
Anyhow---I was just positive these two birds were doing the 'mating dance'---and I was going to title my post "Mating Season is Here". I was so excited to get to do this blog. HA HA HA HA ---was I ever in for a surprise when I looked at the pictures on the computer. Guess what?????? These were TWO MALE Northern Flickers. Uh Oh!!!! Could we have been seeing two birds with an 'alternative lifestyle'???? Ha Ha Ha.... When I told George, he laughed and said "OH---I'm not touching that one with a ten-foot-pole!"

SO---I started doing some research on Northern Flickers... Here's some of what I found out. During the mating season, the methods of communication include drumming, tapping, dance displays, wing noise, bill-touching and vocalizations. The vocalizations are categorized into high calls, dance calls, intimate notes and alarm calls. Some observations from those studying these birds were:

-Pair formation appeared to take place in early spring without reference to a potential nest hole.

-A conflict of males at this time was limited to movements of heads and bills, without vocalizations or physical contact. (This must have been what I was witnessing.)
-The most intense displays and vocalizations arose when two FEMALES competed for a male. One female attacked the male several times. (Are you surprised? Wish I had have seen that situation..ha ha)
-In the course of a search for a nest hole, a pair of flickers communicated with each other by dances and we-cup's, then by a long distance communication of drums and high calls, and finally, on rejoining, by a duet of drumming. The female's choice of a nest hole was the one accepted by the pair.
-Male and female flickers tap in the same manner but not at the same time; the tapping is done in relation to potential nest holes or to ones being excavated. (Interesting information, don't you think?)


Well---it appears that these two males were only discussing the situation --about that gorgeous female they were BOTH wooing. You can come up with your own conclusions!!!! Here are the pictures...





As I said, these two birds were WAY up in a big tree --and kept moving around on the limb. George did a great job getting these pictures of them.







In this picture you can tell that they are two males. Males have a black mustache--and females do not.



Wonder what kind of BIG BUSINESS these two MALES were discussing????? "Stay away from my woman. She's MINE." (Ya think?)



These two birds had their LONG discussion (we watched them for at least 15 minutes). Then, the one on the right flew away toward the right. The one on the left flew toward the left... Wonder if they worked out their problems!!!! (At least they were civil about it --and there were no 'cat-fights' like the females may have had!!!!!)

Well--that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. What are your thoughts??????
Hugs,


43 comments:

Kallen305 said...

How cool is that! And better yet you and George got to witness the entire thing!! Great photos and story behind them.

Jayne said...

LOL Betsy! I would say that indeed they were "discussing" territorial issues. :c) Great captures!

Cedar ... said...

Nice research and photos! Probably they were just discussing their picks for March Madness, haha.....

Connie said...

Great pictures. Good info too. I wasn't aware these birds were in our area.

Patty said...

Nice photos. The birds are always fun to watch.

fishing guy said...

Becky: I have been hearing woodpeckers but only saw my first one yesterday. I still need to see how it came out of the camera. George did a great job with the photos.This was a fun post.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Will there be a sequel to this story?LOL
Blessings,Ruth

Susie said...

Thanks for posting these pictures Betsy. I have never seen Flickers before. They are so pretty!

Who knows what they were discussing. Me and my hubbie are always talking about that. They can sit and chatter back and forth for the longest.

Thanks for the info.

Peggy said...

I just love it!! I use to sit out on our back porch with my bird books and ice tea watching the birds. That was when I only had Diva. LOL Now that we are getting close to being able to eat our meals on the back porch I am going to start watching again. I do enjoy seeing them use the feeders while I am working.

The Whites said...

I enjoy your bird stories and that was a great one. I love to watch them in our yard, but I can't identify most of them!

Great pictures!

Mandy

Pigeon said...

Thanks for the post Betsy, I learned something new today. I have never seen a flicker around here. I think they are quite pretty.

Tina said...

Betsy,
What great pictures of flickers..I think they are extremely difficult to capture with a camera..they are so flitty...
but seeing the size and length of those bills I don't think I would want to get into a "discussion" with either one of them..lol
I enjoyed reading the info about them..they also attrack my attention when I see one...so many colors on that bird..esp when they fly..!!

Great post!!

Rose said...

This is hilarious, Betsy! A great way to start the day by reading something like this.

mountain.mama said...

I have to agree, that was a funny post--birds with alternate lifestyles! We have flickers doing the same thing in our neck of the woods too.

Mary said...

Those are great shots and how wonderful to have 2 males around! I don't usually have any here. Glad you found out about the "talking" behavior of the two.

Busy Bee Suz said...

This is so funny Betsy. At first I thought perhaps they were gay...which is just fine. I have heard of people having gay dogs and cats before. ;0
But after reading your descriptions, I know what was going on...they are having a 'BRO-MANCE.' You know, when 2 men are such good friends, they love to spend all their free time together discussing sports and politics. I am sure that is what was going on. :)
SUZ

The Incredible Woody said...

I love those birds - they are SO striking in their appearance. I may just become a birder, yet!

TheWritersPorch said...

Great post Betsy! Birds are so interesting to watch!
Carol

Diane C. said...

I enjoyed the pictures and story of the interesting bird behavior you observed. Here in the desert we have the Gilded Flicker which looks like yours but with a red mustache instead of black.

Smilingsal said...

Now if people could only act the same way ...

Shellmo said...

Maybe they were saying "hey you take her!" And the other one said "no, you can have her!" LOL! Loved the photos - flickers are one of my favorite birds!!

Gena said...

Lovely photos. I enjoyed the information on them,too.

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Ha! Loved reading about what you saw and what you discovered by looking it up. Animals are fascinating to watch and their lives are way more complicated than those who don't look closely think. Thanks for including the information in this post. Wonderful, Betsy!

Mildred said...

Oh Betsy! I bet they were just "kicking tires!" Congrats to you and George for getting these great photos and thanks for sharing.

karin said...

What a fun read on a Monday morning! I live in a place where we don't get to see anything more exciting than crows and sparrows right now. I love visiting here and seeing what you and George have been up to! Beautiful birds and great shots of those two - out on a limb, enjoying the day.

Deborah Godin said...

Well, they do indeed seem to be very gentlemanly about it all. Perhaps those elegant moustaches foster civility! Great shots, George!

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

You know.... I really think one day (when we "see through the glass... CLEARLY"), we'll be amazed to know what full rich lives our feathered (and furry) friends had! I don't necessarily think all their discussions have to do with territory, mating rights, etc. Maybe they were having a discussion about how FABULOUS and SUPERIOR your birdseed is compared to what they ate down the street last week? Or perhaps how chilly it was last week compared to today?

Who knows?

It's so interesting..... we have a group of hawks that live near our house. Hawks, and other birds of prey, are supposed to be such solitary creatures, but they are NOT - I can tell you this from observing them - they fly in groups - and they PLAY up on the wind currents - it's like their own little roller coaster! Absolutely fascinating to watch!

Even watching my 2 dogs interact, I would LOVE to be able to speak their language and know what they are "talking" about!

koala said...

They look so royal as if someone carved them out of wood.

Photojenni said...

Great Story Betsy! I love to hear and watch woodpeckers. They are very entertaining. Thank You George for the great photography!
Pj

ramblingwoods.com said...

Oh great post and some info that I didn't know..this made me smile..Michelle

Betty said...

Yes, I say George definitely did a good job taking these pictures. Great camera and great camera man. Interesting facts about these birds. My first thought was alternative lifestyle, lol!!

Mary Isabella and Kiley too! said...

You both are really good photographers. I love to come to your blog to read about all of your adventures and see all the places you visit...m..

Leedra said...

A really good post. George did great with the photos for your story. Now where is the female?

We went back to Rockwood on Sun evening, the sun was beginning to set and when we took the Rockwood exit the sun dropped behind the mountain (Rockwood is so low) I was thinking of you and knew even though I couldn't see that pretty sunset, you were enjoying it up on the plateau. Hope you saw it, it was gorgeous.

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Neal said...

Great shot Betsy! George is smart not to touch that. :)

Bird Girl said...

Well, almost Betsy!!! You'll catch some other bird couple at it ...I'm sure ;-)
Great and interesting post!

Jen said...

I thought these were fake birds when I saw your first picture and that went along with the title of your post too. HA!
They are pretty- hope I spot one.
All the birds around here have been very noisy lately--so something IS going on and no doubt mating season is here.

Diane said...

Dear Betsy, I think there's something almost magical about being able to see animals or birds in a little different situation than usual. It's great that you were able to observe it.

Small City Scenes said...

Great story, betsy. what a wonderous thing to have witnessed and then the information. We learn something everyday. MB

Eve said...

What a great story it is Betsy!! There are so many great things to learn out there aren't there!

Tarolino said...

What amazing birds and such good shots of them too. They look like they have forgotten to take of the pyjamas. I've never seen anything like this. Isn't this blogworld wonderful. Such a journey of discovery.

Aleta said...

What great pictures and interesting information about these pretty birds! I think they are having a "man to man" discussion about a certain lady . . . Or maybe they are saying, "See that lady with the camera? Let's give her some great pictures!" Thanks for sharing, Betsy.

Aleta said...

Woops . . . or, rather, they are saying "See that MAN with the camera?" since it was George who took these pictures.

Daisy said...

Such great photos and loved the play by play of the story too. :D