Walking around the mountain top these days is like walking around one giant wildlife nursery! Baby birds of all species have left the nest and are following their parents around and are feeding on their own for the first time in their lives. Baby mammals, such as deer and black bear, can be seen doing likewise.
It always amazes me to see wildlife adapt to human structures and developments. Birds especially can be remarkably adaptable to nesting in or on man-made objects. Numerous Barn Swallow nests are located in the eves and rafters of our buildings here and just recently we found out about a Northern Flicker nest located in one of our Glen Greensides statues of a Basketball Player (see photos below).
Northern Flickers, a type of woodpecker, excavate cavities in both living and dead trees. These cavities can take up to two weeks to construct. Great care is taken in choosing the location and direction of the opening to the cavity. Woodpeckers are careful not to excavate above a branch, where rainwater could enter and fill up the hole. Also, the entrance is usually orientated south and east to get the maximum amount of sun and daylight (especially in more northerly locations). You can usually tell which species of woodpecker have excavated a cavity because the opening will be just large enough to allow an adult bird to enter it. The parent birds then line the cavity with a bed of wood chips on which they lay two to six eggs.
The cavity we found on the statue was rather large, indicating it was a Northern Flicker nest and not one of our other common woodpeckers such as a Red-breasted Sapsucker, and its entrance was indeed facing southeast! When taking the photos below I waited for some time for the parents to return to feed the young adult male flicker but they did not show up.
Returning the next morning I found the young bird had fledged (left the nest) and was resting on a nearby statue. The parent birds will often encourage the young to leave the nest by holding off on feeding them just long enough that the young bird is hungry enough to brave the outside world. The parents then protect and watch over the fledgling while it learns to forage and strengthens its muscles for flight.
I hope you enjoy the photos and before we know it this young guy will be tapping on trees, vocalizing loudly and otherwise proclaiming himself to the world