Photographer and naturalist Paul Bannick tells of a time in the forests of North Carolina, when he heard Northern Flicker parents urging their chicks to fledge. "There was a young, timid, brown head sticking out of that cavity. I could imagine this bird would be nervous about taking its first flight. But it gripped the front of the cavity and plunged forward ... on a really smooth, direct flight to the parents."
Paul Bannick Watches Young Flickers Fledge
Interview of Paul Bannick written up by Chris Peterson
This is BirdNote.
[Northern Flicker nestlings and an adult]
Photographer and naturalist Paul Bannick tells us of a time, in May, in the forests of North Carolina, when he heard Northern Flicker parents urging their chicks to fledge.
[Northern Flickers calling to their young]
“So I followed the source of those calls and I found a cavity and there was a young, timid, brown head sticking out of that cavity. I can imagine this bird would be nervous about taking its first flight, and I was surprised there was only one chick. It gripped the front of the cavity and plunged forward. I was expecting it to fall and wobble, but it went on a really smooth, direct flight to the parents.
And then I looked back at the cavity and up popped another bird right into place! And it reminded me of a Pez dispenser—with a little head popping right into the hole. And this bird followed the exact same process: again, timidly putting its head out of the hole before thrusting its torso out, before getting the courage up to press its claws against the lip of the cavity, and again, push itself out and follow that course. As soon as that bird did so, up pops another – right into position! Eventually, four flickers fledged from that cavity.”
[Northern Flicker social vocalizations]
“When I saw those Northern Flickers fledging, there was no way I was going to put aside the opportunity to witness one of the most spectacular but simple, and common, spectacles in nature.”
[Repeat Northern Flicker vocalizations]
To see the flickers Paul Bannick photographed, come to birdnote.org.
Calls of the adult and nestling Northern Flickers provided by The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Nestling and adult exchange recorded by Kevin Colver; Wick-a call ML  recorded by Thomas G. Sander; Kleeyer call  by Curtis Marantz.
Theme music composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2013 Tune In to Nature.orgMay 2013Narrator: Mary McCann