After a Northern Flicker carves out a nest cavity, chances are the birds will use the cavity for just one nesting season. But the cavity may have a prolonged career as a home for small owls, bluebirds, swallows, and other birds - including the Bufflehead. Buffleheads - like the family seen here - are the only ducks small enough to use the cavities of flickers. Clear-cutting in some northern forests has reduced nesting habitat for flickers and Buffleheads alike. Both benefit when consumers choose paper products made from recycled paper.
Flickers and Buffleheads
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
[Woodpecker excavating nest hole]
Listen to one of nature’s most skilled carpenters at work. [Woodpecker excavating nest hole] A woodpecker – a Northern Flicker – is carving out a nest cavity. Clinging halfway up an old, dead tree, the bird uses its chisel-like bill to chip out a round entrance hole three inches across. [Woodpecker excavating] The flicker then excavates a cavity a foot or more deep inside the trunk – a safe haven for raising its young.
Chances are, the flickers will use this cavity for just one nesting season. But that cavity may have a prolonged career as a home for small owls, bluebirds, swallows, and other birds – including one very special duck. [Splash of Bufflehead]
In the boreal forest of northern North America, the small black-and-white duck named the Bufflehead nests almost exclusively in old flicker cavities. [Bufflehead vocalizations] A number of other ducks also incubate their eggs in tree cavities, but Buffleheads are the only ones small enough to use the cavities of flickers. [ Northern Flicker calling]
Yet clear-cutting in some northern forests has reduced nesting habitat for flickers and Buffleheads alike. Both benefit when consumers choose paper products made from recycled paper. [Woodpecker excavation sounds]
Sounds of provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Pileated Woodpecker excavating recorded by G.A. Keller; call of Northern Flicker by 6819 R.C. Stein; boreal ambient recorded by G.F. Budney CD25 T9 and landing of Bufflehead recorded by W.W.H.Gunn.
Calls of Bufflehead recorded by Martyn Stewart of naturesound.com
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org May 2018/2021 Narrator: Michael Stein
Primary reference: Birds of North America online.