Northern Flicker – Mont Ste. Marie, Quebec

This is a male Northern Flicker, spotted on a pine tree. (You can tell it is a male because of the black “mustache” by it’s beak.) We found it on a walk around the chalets (privately owned cottages) near the ski hill at Mont Sainte Marie in Quebec, where Stuart has a chalet. Northern Flickers eat ants (a favorite), beetles, caterpillars and termites, but also eat berries, fruits and nuts in the Fall. This one appeared to be listening for critters creeping under the bark of the tree, but it might just have been keeping an eye on us as we circled around, trying to get a good shot.

This is the Time of the Black Flies; The females bite because they need blood to reproduce. I have a number of bites near my ears, acquired when sweeping leaves off the front deck. Dreadful creatures. Possibly well loved by Northern Flickers? There are more than 1000 (some sources say more than 2000) species of black flies, of which only 15 are extinct (hard for me to be too sad about that.) There are about 110 species in Canada. I don’t know what species bit me, but I have welts and they itch. Folks, these flies are a nasty piece of work. They can kill cattle, even.

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