A family of flickers has set up housekeeping in a very dead poplar tree not far from the lodge. It is a marked tree, in that Greg has been saying for years that it needs to come down before it falls down. After observing the happy nature of these flickers, I told him not yet.
I watched these birds the other day for about twenty minutes. The nesting hole is about twenty feet up the trunk, so it wasn't easy getting photos. I persevered, and my trusty little point-and-shoot came through, so that at least I could see outlines of the birds. Finally, I gave up on the camera, and took time to just observe. There were four birds, and none seemed small, so I guess this is an extended family. Three would fly off routinely, while a fourth would stay behind and occasionally poke its beak out of the hole.
The calls were constant and loud, so I could keep track of how far away they had traveled. Soon enough, they would fly back, and one or two would quickly sneak into the hole. Another would perch at the hole, and bob back and forth, in and out, while the one inside would mimic the routine. It really had me wondering what the dance was all about, something I'll probably never know.
A couple days later, while standing in the lodge, I heard the loud and familiar thunk of a bird hitting the window. I went outside to investigate, and was sad to see that it was one of the flickers. It was lying belly down on the grass, with its eyes shut. I picked it up to see if anything could be done, and noticed that it was still alive.
I brought it to the porch and held it for awhile, thinking that at least the warmth from my hand might be of some assistance. Since it was chilly outside, I soon decided to bring it into the lodge, and put it in the classic box. I didn't go so far as to line the box with newspaper, and put water in it...the realism of adulthood told me not to have the optimism that I might have were I still a child. I put the box near the woodstove, and sat down with my knitting.
Soon enough, I could hear scratchings in the box, so I took it outside. I was hoping that the little one had recuperated enough to go and join its mates in the tree. The calling of the others was still constant, and I hoped that it might jar recognition in the fallen one. But it was not to be. I watched as it took its final breath and was gone.
I've noticed that the others are still calling and playing, so perhaps this was not one of their relatives. But for a few brief moments, I got to be close to it, like a relative, and had the joy of seeing its beauty up close, and in my hand. What a rare gift it was.