Battle of the Nest April 28 2019, 0 Comments
When we left our happy Northern Flicker couple in last week’s post, they were making great progress with their plum tree nest building. Much sawdust had been mined and the pair were looking pretty pleased with themselves.
I check their progress every time I walk the dog so imagine my surprise when I witnessed a full-scale, no-holds-barred battle taking place between the resident flicker and a starling.
For all the flicker’s size advantage, the starling had pure street fighting instinct going for it. When they finally broke apart, a flicker feather spiralled slowly down through the morning air and into my hand.
The flickers flew back to the nest while the starling pair continued to make fierce calls from the other branches in the tree. Surely, I thought, the flickers must have the advantage here, being so much bigger and on home territory. But …
Once the female flicker had driven the starling off she and the invader both flew over to the neighbour’s fence. The flicker took the opportunity to catch her breath. The starling took the time to perform what looked very much like a starling war ritual, puffing out his feathers, making angry chattering calls and taking out a bit of aggression on a yew hedge before heading back into the fray …
The fight continued for several more minutes. And it was fierce. Somehow the starling got inside the nest and the male flicker tried to keep him trapped in there — unsuccessfully.
Eventually they took a break. Many flicker feathers had floated to the ground. Geordie, the dog, was looking worried that this morning’s walk would never actually get going.
Somewhat reluctantly on my part, we went for our walk. On the way home we, of course, stopped to check in at the state of play at the flicker nest. I fully expected to see the original owners back in control, but …
It seemed that new tenants had moved in and, not only that, they were redecorating to suit …
The Northern Flickers were nursing their wounds and their bruised pride on a neighbour’s roof, hammering out their frustration on the metal chimney.
It looked as if the small but scrappy starlings had won!
But, in the Game of Nests, it’s never over till it’s over … so stay tuned for the next instalment.
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