By Pat Bumstead
My non-bird watching friends seem to be picking up the habit by osmosis. The more I talk about birds (hardly ever), the more questions I get from people who are just starting to notice them. One such friend phoned me one day in high dudgeon, almost demanding to know what that bird was that woke him up so early. I managed to talk him into doing a short blog post for us, and he even had video to go with it. He lives in Midnapore, but this activity can be seen throughout Calgary, particularly at this time of year. Here’s what he had to say.
What’s that infernal racket so early in the morning? The metallic hammering emanating from the furnace sounded like it was having a meltdown.
I raced downstairs and started pulling covers off left and right to find the relay that was suffering an acute attack of St. Vitus’ dance. It quickly became obvious that the racket was now above me and emanating from the furnace chimney pipe. What was in there?
Running outside to fetch a ladder, the source of the problem quickly became obvious. A male woodpecker (Northern Flicker) was hammering on the roof’s flat chimney cap, the better to inveigle any nearby female Flickers into viewing his roof etchings. Unlike size, in the avian world, apparently volume does matter and what better way to announce your augmented virility than by drilling on a resonating metallic roof cap? What better location too, than where the owners of a garden and messaging roof have two enormous poplar trees. Our poplars are home to many delicious insects and they also support regularly replenished hanging bird feeders.
Clearly this was Flicker Shangri-la and if woodpeckers were up and about, so should everyone else be.