Flicker Letting The Chips Fall Where They May

/, Clark County, Idaho, Northern Flickers, Targhee National Forest/Flicker Letting The Chips Fall Where They May

Northern Flicker exiting the nest cavityNorthern Flicker exiting the nest cavity

Sunday and Monday I wrote that I had spent time at the Magical Sapsucker Tree and that the Northern Flicker was working on enlarging the old sapsucker hole so I thought I would share a few images of the male Northern Flicker I photographed yesterday. The flicker was inside the cavity when we drove up and within a few seconds he left the tree. This is him emerging from the cavity.

Northern Flicker male at the nesting cavityNorthern Flicker male at the nesting cavity

And here he is arriving back at the nesting cavity, this is the same nesting cavity I photographed the Williamson’s Sapsuckers at last year. Until yesterday morning the flicker had been sort of shy but that might be because the Mountain Bluebirds dive bomb it when it appears. Yesterday he didn’t let them deter him or his excavation so I got great views and images of him.

Close up of a male Northern Flicker and Aspen nesting treeClose up of a male Northern Flicker and Aspen nesting tree

Most of the images I took of the Northern Flicker were using FX (full frame) mode without my teleconverter because I was hoping to catch him flying off but the only times I had that opportunity was before I removed my TC and switched to FX mode so I clipped the flicker’s head off. Maybe I will get another chance for flight shots of this handsome woodpecker. The detail in this 36.1 megapixel fill frame file with the teleconverter on is outstanding and I can see that even on my lap top. I can’t wait to see the file on my larger monitor.

The Northern Flicker sending wood chips flyingThe Northern Flicker sending wood chips flying

And the title of this post came from the activity shown in this image. I could hear the Northern Flicker excavating inside the nesting cavity and when he would stop he would appear at the entrance with a bill full of shavings and forcefully eject them from the cavity. The wood chips would go flying in all directions and then he would go back and get more to throw out.

I hated to leave the tree but my stomach was rumbling and the light was getting high. I wish the morning light lasted all day long.

I am having an exceptional time photographing the birds in and around the Magical Sapsucker Tree. I am not sure I want to go home until all the nesting, brooding and chick rearing is done. I’m gobsmacked by the flurry of activity there.

Life. Is. Good.



  1. Utahbooklover May 5, 2015 at 11:35 pm

    Thanks for the interesting images of one my favorite birds I sometimes see. Good to read what an enjoyable time you are having Mia — you have certainly earned it.

  2. Stu May 5, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Amazing shots Mia. and a favorite bird of mine who does not visit here now. Love the wood chips spraying !

  3. Patty Chadwick May 5, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Wonderful shots…love the flying chips. That must be the “honey hole” for cavity-nesting birds…it’s had such a variety of interested occupants!

  4. Sarah Mayhew May 5, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Great series! It is fun to watch them hollow out a nest site!

  5. Grace Cohen May 5, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Thank you for shooting and sharing this wonderful spring ritual, Mia! Several years ago, I had the opportunity to shoot Red-Bellied Woodpeckers starting from scratch in an old tree directly out my kitchen window. I set up my tripod in the kitchen sink and would shoot every day – until the leaves unfurled and spoiled my view. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a TC and the light was often bad so even with my Canon 400 L lens, my images weren’t nearly as close and sharp as you are able to shoot with your amazing new camera. As a photographer, I always appreciate your stories and background about wildlife which only further accentuates your lovely shots and highlights your passion for shooting birds. I also appreciate that you share details about your equipment and shooting techniques. If I’m not able to read your delightful posts (traveling, etc.), I save them and ‘binge read’ when time allows! Thanks again, Mia!

  6. Ian May 5, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Talk about being in the right place at the right time!

  7. Bob Bushell May 5, 2015 at 3:28 am

    Beautiful Flicker images.

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