Richard and Diane Van Vleck Personal Pages
The Home Habitat
2017 Northern Flicker Nesting
Flickers successfully raised a brood in June of 2017, after failing in 2015 and 2016 due to intense starling pressure at all four of the barn mounted boxes. This year starling pairs began to build nests in the 3 available boxes, as usual. Boxes were monitored frequently and starlings were trapped and nesting material promptly removed. The flickers frequently entered these boxes, but were soon driven off by yet another pair of starlings. Only box “A”, chosen by the kestrel pair went uncontested by starlings. It had housed a family of squirrels who vacated in early April. The box did not have video monitoring then, so I missed any interaction between the squirrels and kestrels.
After being driven from the barn mounted boxes many times, the male flicker finally resorted to the old post mounted box in the barn yard. Flickers had not nested in this box since 2005. Starlings had also ignored this box. It seems that nothing attracts starlings to a nest box more than the presence of a flicker. But, the starlings had already lost interest in nesting in early June, when the flickers were observed at the barn yard box. Once again, the flickers succeeded in nesting only after the starlings moved on. I know of no other bird that has to work longer and harder to secure a nest site than a flicker in a starling infested area. And, where snags are readily available, the flicker likely creates more cavities for starlings than do other woodpecker species. They sometimes excavate several in one season, with the starlings perching nearby and waiting.
This winter ( Jan, 2018) the flicker family has remained together. The male is spending each night in the kestrel box (box A), and one of this year’s brood of four is continually finding its way into the barn, requiring that I check the 2nd floor every day and open a high window for it to escape. I have not found where it is entering. The female seems to be frequently spending the night in box C and the others under the eaves. The male kestrel also checks box “A” every few days, but has not yet encountered the male flicker. No squirrel has entered box “A” this winter. That is the only box being monitored with motion detection.
The male flicker
The female flicker
|barn owl||American kestrel||purple martin||barn swallow||Eastern bluebird|
|tufted titmouse||Eastern phoebe||yellow shafted flicker||tree swallow||chimney swift|
|house wren||big brown bat||Carolina wren||brown thrasher||catbird|
|cedar waxwing||Northern mockingbird|
|Yellow warbler||Acadian flycatcher|
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