|Our Feathered Friends - June 20|
|Wednesday, June 20, 2012|
My family recently went on a two day camping trip to Fall Creek Falls, in Pikeville, with some friends. One of the first things I noticed when we arrived at the wooded campsite was the sound of birds all around us. After a few hours and a little patience I discovered we had quite a variety, which included Tufted Titmouse, Chickadee, Cardinal, Blackbird, Chipping Sparrow, Downey and Red-Bellied Woodpecker. However, there was one call in particular that was close, frequent and unfamiliar to me. I soon discovered there was a large family of Northern Flickers near our camp site.
I believe this is the first time I have seen a Flicker, but they were easy to identify. They are 13-14 inches in length and very unique. They have a beautiful red “V” on the back of their head, a spotted chest and a black crescent on their front lower neck and black cheek patches. Their sound is a very distinct “wicka-wicka-wicka.” I tried to count how many there were but of course they would not hold still long enough for me to get an accurate count. I’m assuming there were 6-8 and most likely parents with their first set of fledglings. Flickers are a type of woodpecker but are primarily ground feeders who prefer ants (which make up almost half of their diet). They also eat other insects, fruit, berries and seeds and will visit bird feeders.
We were not prepared for our first morning and symphony of bird calls that woke us at the crack of dawn. As you know, I love birds, but I can tell you I was not particularly fond of them at 5 a.m.! However, I now understand why Ray always wants to get an early start when we go birding! I really wish Ray could have been there to help me ID all the calls and tell you all the birds who were present, but I have to admit I was overwhelmed.
On our second day, there was yet another new bird call that drew my attention. My daughter also noticed it, and walked up to me to ask what was making the “squeaky duck” noise. She was right, it sounded very much like the high pitched rubber ducks my kids use to play with in the bath tub. I told her I didn’t know but I had heard it as well and would figure it out. I soon saw a bird that I first saw birding with Ray quite a while back, a White-breasted Nuthatch. As soon as I spotted the one I realized there was a family of them as well, and they were making their spiraling trips down some nearby tree trunks. As you may know, Nuthatches will fly to the top of a tree and make their way down looking for insects. This is opposite of the Brown Creeper which will start at the bottom of a tree trunk and make their way up the tree.
Well, after three days and two nights of “roughing it,” I can tell you I’ve decided I’m not a huge fan of camping. My husband and two children loved it and want to go again, but they will be leaving me at home. I loved the birds and all the fun I had watching them on our campsite, but I can get that from my birding trips with Ray and not have all the extra work that goes along with camping!