Sometimes Mother Nature throws us a curve ball. Last week I wrote in depth about the nest a Northern Flicker pair was making in my birch tree. Today I am sad to report that they have abandoned the nest.
The Flickers were at the hole constantly for over a week, busily excavating and enlarging the cavity. After that activity ceased, I didn’t see much of them, except for a Flicker head appearing at the hole occasionally. I figured the Flickers were incubating eggs and soon there would be babies. I figured all was well.
Then Saturday my friend Robb asked to see the nest. We walked over just as a gray squirrel scrambled down the tree trunk, and plunged headfirst into the Flicker hole. He completely disappeared and we didn’t see him come out.
Well! This was a nasty turn of events. What happened here? Obviously the Flickers were no longer occupying the cavity, but why? Was the female unable to produce eggs? Did too much human activity near the tree scare them off? Did a European Starling, a frequent nest competitor, interfere with the nest? Did some critter eat the eggs?
Was the squirrel the culprit? Squirrels will eat bird eggs from time to time. Or was the squirrel just taking advantage of the previously abandoned cavity?
We’ll never know. It’s sad that the Flickers’ nest failed. I am disappointed that I won’t get to watch baby Flickers grow up, especially since the cavity was in a terrific location for photography.
This happens with some frequency in the natural world. Flickers raise one brood a year, but they will lay more eggs if the first ones are lost. They expended a lot of energy excavating that cavity. They may try again in the same hole, if the squirrels (or the House Sparrows I saw there today) haven’t moved in permanently. Or they may have to start again somewhere else. But they will start again. As I write this, I can hear the loud WIK-WIK-WIK-WIK-WIK-WIK-WIK call of a Flicker nearby.
There’s a lesson for me in the saga of the Flickers. Though the past year has been filled with wonderful adventures, I have also been struggling with some old familiar failures. Self-critical perfectionist that I am, I find it extremely difficult to let go of those failures. Like the Flickers, I need to shrug it off and start again. Put yesterday in the past, and start each day anew.