Look at Me Girls, Look at Me

Male Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker

Male Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker

Saturday afternoon, when I was bicycling in the park, I came upon the above pictured flicker. He was perched atop a street light and was easy to find. (You can tell that he is a male, because of the black malar coming off his beak.) First, he would call out, wicka-wicka-wicka, then he would pound his beak against the aluminum street light housing, rat-a-tat-tat. Then he would pause and I could hear another male flicker, not too far off, repeating his message, wicka-wicka-wicka and then rat-a-tat-tat. After the other bird was done, this little guy would begin the call and response again. It wasn’t until after several rounds of this that I realized that the other male flicker was at the adjacent street lamp, just fifty yards down the road. I never saw nor heard any female flickers, but they had to be there, because why else would these two dudes be strutting their stuff?

A spring or two ago, Anne was in the classroom, but the window was open and it was a beautiful spring day. Just outside, a male cardinal was perched on a tree branch, singing his heart out. It sounded like who-it cheer, who-it cheer, cheer-cheer-cheer; cheer, who-it-who-it-who-it-who-it; wheat-wheat-wheat-wheat. Anne whistled back to the bird and then interpreted for the class, look-at-me-girls, look-at-me-girls, look-at-me-girls, look-look-look. One sad individual asked her, “Where did you learn to speak pigeon?” I say sad, because not only was he unable to distinguish between a cardinal and a pigeon, but he failed in his hometown, which is also the home of the Saint Louis Cardinals.

One last spring story, this one is from the plant kingdom. I got up and out of bed this morning early enough to beat today’s rain and go for another bicycle ride in the park. There were no wildlife encounters on this ride, but I did hear a number of interesting, if unidentifiable bird calls. This spring story comes down to what I saw, while climbing the last hill on the way home. There was a green sheen on the raised tread of my bicycle tire. The green was from the pollen that all of the plants and trees have been busily pumping out. Today’s rain ought to give some momentary relief to all of the allergy suffers in town. Oh by the way, they are also forecasting snow for tonight.

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