Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flickers, Rats and Starlings (Spring heats up, despite the weather)

I was on my deck yesterday, in the morning, and there was a lot of activity going on in the yard. (I'm still wondering who it was who scheduled such a beautiful, sunny day after such a drizzly, grey weekend). The female flicker from our neighborhood was back at the suet feeder (I moved it further out from the fence so the rat can't get to it).  You can see her here.

Underneath the feeder, the rat that lives under our fence was foraging for dropped bits of suet.  I think you can even see a fleck of suet on his back.

There was a brief skirmish on the ground between the rat and a Starling who also wanted to eat the crumbs.  The rat chased the starling off, but it stayed on a fence post just above, watching and vocalizing.

Meanwhile, while all this was going on, the male Flicker was on the roof next door, hammering away at their chimney.
A pretty exciting day for birds and critters.

By the way, this is the first time I've been able to get shots of the male and female Flicker at the same time.  I can hear him pounding out his mating call all over the neighborhood (including, sometimes, on the side of my house.)  With all this courtship going on, I'm hoping for Flicker fledglings in the near future.


  1. please forgive my ignorance,
    that rat looks like a mouse to me - of course i can't tell the size.
    How can you tell them apart?

  2. You can't really tell how big he is in the photos. I wasn't sure either so I asked my friend who's a naturalist and he assures me that this is an example of Rattus norvegicus, or the Norway Rat -- which is the common form of the rat which has traveled all over the world with humans. I see him quite often in the yard now.