Northern Flickers on the Tuolumne River Parkway Trail
I sure enjoy seeing Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus). They are colorful interesting birds who don't mind perching where I can catch the occasional picture. The first three or four times I saw them, it was in dark or foggy conditions, but I've been getting luckier these days. There are some dead snags along the nearly complete Tuolumne River Parkway trail in Waterford where they've been dependable sights.
The Flickers are a kind of woodpecker, and they do drum on trees and the like, but they also like to forage for bugs on the ground, probing with their long beaks. They have a distinctive call that lets me know when they are close by. I've watched them on our west campus chasing around and dancing their unique "fencing duel" against potential breeding rivals.
I've walked along the river trail three times in the last week, and I saw a couple of them each time. I imagine they'll stick around after the trail is finished and more people spend time along the river. There is a relatively wide riparian environment that provides shelter for Flickers and the other birds, and there were never any plans to develop a grassy barren park along the river. The trail will preserve and promote the river habitat.
I had a surprise today (which is kind of stupid, really, for as many time as I've photographed the birds). They have really bright tail feathers! They're usually in a tight narrow bundle, but the bird I saw today was flaring its tail feathers. A beautiful sight!