A Fine Balance

October can be an exciting month for birdwatching. We’ve watched wave after wave of migrating songbirds and shore/water birds pass through this area of southern New Hampshire. Many birdwatchers travel to migratory hot spots to watch the action but we believe we have a good seat right here on the 50-yard line to watch all the birding action we desire.

Northern-Flicker_photo courtesy of Steve Creek Outdoors: stevecreek.com/a-male-northern-flicker/

Northern-Flicker_photo courtesy of Wikimedia.com, Steve Creek Outdoors: stevecreek.com/a-male-northern-flicker/

We’ve followed ducks, geese, vireos, sparrows, warblers, bluebirds, cedar waxwings, hawks and more, stop to rest and dine for a few days before taking off again. One new visitor I’ve especially enjoyed watching this week is the Northern Flicker, the Yellow-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus), a larger bird related to the woodpeckers and sapsuckers. Not an uncommon bird, but it’s fun to watch. It stands out on the horizon as it swoops and dips in flight, its large white rump visible only in the air. I admired his distinctive spotted plumage as it fed on ants and other insects on the ground beneath the white pines .

October is also great time to observe migrating hawks that land in the pines, perch on tree limbs, or circle the salt marsh looking for food. As in Virginia, a hawk we often see is the the Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii.) that scans the horizon from its favorite perch in nearby trees. What is the Cooper’s Hawk looking for? Birds. And what did the last Cooper’s Hawk find? Yep, that’s right. Our Northern Flicker nourished the hunter so it could continue its journey south.

It’s always a bit unsettling for me when I discover a fluff of a bird that was. But understanding nature in its fullest is understanding the delicate cycle and balance of the natural world.

Windy weather in New Hampshire yesterday ushers in a cold front today, perfect weather for spurring on bird migration. We’ll have our binoculars (and warm coats) ready.

10 thoughts on “A Fine Balance

  1. Pingback: Gratitude 144: Birds « Perpetual Gratitude: A Photographic Diary

  2. Bonjour Annie, I am part of the Vancouver Advisory Bird Committee in Vancouver, Canada. We are currently developing a proposal named the Bird Friendly Strategy to support a rich and diverse assemblage of native birds. We would like to use your image of the Northern Flicker feathers in our proposal. I was wondering if you would give us the rights to do so.



  3. Hello Annie!
    I am writing a piece about a recent Snowy Owl pellet dissection I conducted, which revealed yellow-shafted feathers from a Northern Flicker it had consumed. I would love to use your image of the intact, un-consumed plumes in my post to compare with the images of the remains I discovered. I will happily credit you as the photographer and link your post. Just wanted to reach out to you and let you know that your striking picture is perfect for showing what the individual feathers look like. It’s often difficult to picture the pattern of the specific plumes when looking at the complete bird!
    -Tim H

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Tim, It’s not my photo. It was one I used courtesy of Wikimedia and I credited the photographer as they asked me to do. I had the credit on the photo but noticed it didn’t show up when I clicked the pic. So I added the info as a title beneath the photo. I don’t see too many flickers anymore. We moved to a condo they rarely visit us 😏 but we do have Snowy Owls nearby!


      • Ahh, I understand! I’m not able to see the information of the photographer. If you could share that so I can credit them properly, I would greatly appreciate it.


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