Newsflash: Mr. Flicker Isn’t Insane


I’ve written about the phenomenon of Northern Flickers pounding their beaks on my rain gutters.
I’ve even publicly begged their mercy since that rat-a-tat-tat makes me jump out of my proverbial skin.
Especially the metallic rat-a-tat-tat of beak on aluminum.

But the flickers ignore my feelings and persist in their rhythmic assault on my nervous system.
So I chase them away, questioning their sanity and intelligence.
There was one brief moment when I considered letting my enormous cat loose on the roof
(totally Zippy’s idea), but I refrained. 

Then the other day I received an email from my friends at Wild Birds Unlimited.
And guess what?
Northern Flickers don’t pound on metal surfaces because they’re nuts.
Northern Flickers pound on those surfaces because they’re looking for love!
At least, that’s how the males go about it.
They create those loud sounds to let the females know they’re available, and to drive away other males.
(On the other hand, a slow, methodical tapping is bad news because they’re probably making a nesting hole in your wood siding).

                                                                                                © 2010 Tracy Abell

Anyway, that little piece of information has made a huge difference in how I handle those sudden bursts of noise.
I still don’t like it but whenever I hear it, I imagine this dude (except an actual male since I just realized this is a female!) using his beautiful, sturdy beak to find some companionship.

Call me insane, but I think that’s kind of romantic.

16 thoughts on “Newsflash: Mr. Flicker Isn’t Insane

  1. Now you’ve got me wondering… We had a woodpecker who used to rattle our chimney flashing in the spring, again and again and again. I chalked it down to bird weirdness (we had some crazy wood pigeons at the time, too), but maybe he was just strutting his stuff for his ladylove?!


    • I bet you’re right about the woodpecker. The flickers go at the vent thingy on the roof, too, so I bet that’s what your bird was doing. Puts a whole new spin on that noise, doesn’t it?


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