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Outdoor Hour Challenge: Flicker Bird Nature Study

Outdoor Hour Challenge

Flicker Bird Nature Study

Since writing this challenge years ago, we’ve moved to Central Oregon where we have an abundance of Norther flickers. I observe them every day at my bird feeder right outside my window. They’re such beautifully colored birds and I never get tired of watching them cling to our tree and then swoop down to the suet feeder. Their large size makes them easy to identify but we often hear them long before we see them. You may also see them land on the ground so don’t be surprised about that behavior.

I hope that you can use the links in the original challenge to look at and hear the sounds of the Northern flicker. If you would rather study another tree clinging bird, you’ll find several links in the challenge to get you started.

Flicker Bird Study @handbookofnaturestudy

View the original challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Flicker.

Flicker page 1

flicker 2

If you have access to the Winter Nature Study Continues ebook, there are two notebook pages to choose from for your nature journal.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues ebook

Join Us Ultimate Naturalist June 2020

To purchase an Ultimate Naturalist Library membership, click on over to the Join Us page at any time.

You can use the discount code NATURE5 to receive $5 off your Ultimate Naturalist Library membership.

Learning About Birds 3D cover

You may wish to download and use the Learning About Birds ebook available in the Ultimate Naturalist Library. There are lots of birds included in this ebook, including tree clinging birds like the woodpecker and the nuthatch.

Learning About Birds ebook Bird List @handbookofnaturestudy


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Great Backyard Bird Count 2015 Results

February Blossoms
This year the Great Backyard Bird Count fell on a perfect spring-like weekend. We have had warm temperatures and loads of sunshine, causing the trees and flowers to burst open with color and fragrance. This was great for all of us humans but it seemed to lower the numbers of birds we typically see during this citizen science event.


We participated on two of the four days and here are our results.

Great Backyard Bird Count 2015

  • Anna’s hummingbird 1
  • Titmouse 2
  • Western scrub jay 3
  • Crows 2
  • Spotted towhee 2
  • Juncos 2
  • Pine siskins 2
  • White-crowned sparrows 1
  • Mockingbird 1
  • House finches 9
  • Northern flicker 1

A total of 26 birds. (Of note, we haven’t counted a single House sparrow in months at our feeders as part of Project Feederwatch. Where have they all gone?)

The week before the count we had 8 inches of rain and 102 birds that visited our feeders and yard, including approx. 50 Cedar wawings, a Nuttall’s woodpecker, and 10 robins. Quite a difference!

Here is a link to last year’s results: 2014.

I created my nature journal page as part of the Once a Month Nature Journal Project featuring one of the robins I watched right outside my window in the pyracantha berries. The suggestion was to create a page that recorded something you saw out your window.

American robin nature journal
Once a Month Nature Journal Project for February

I also had some time to create a notebook page entry for the Northern flicker. The Outdoor Hour Challenge a few weeks ago was to watch for a flicker in your yard or neighborhood. I actually saw three flickers one day when I was driving over to my parent’s house. I love seeing them flash in front of me with their colorful underbellies. You can find the challenge here: Outdoor Hour Challenge – Flickers.

Flicker Nature Journal Page

I know people are going to ask me so I will link the Cornell bird coloring book for you to download: Classroom Feederwatch-Cornell Bird Coloring Book.

I hope you had a chance to count birds this year!

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Outdoor Hour Challenge – Flicker

Flicker Bird Study @handbookofnaturestudy

Inside Preparation Work:

  • Read the Handbook of Nature Study lesson on flickers (Yellow-hammers) found on pages 77-80 (Lesson #18).
  • You can also view the information on All About Birds website to learn more about the flicker: Northern Flicker. On that site, you can see there the map showing the distribution for the Northern Flicker. Make sure to listen to the sound of the flicker so you can listen for it in your area. I almost always hear a flicker before I see it (and then it is many times on the lawn looking for something to eat).
  • There are also videos on Flicker videos.
  • Print page two of this pdf to read some tips for finding flickers: Living With Wildlife.

Outdoor Hour Time:

  • Use the observation suggestions in the Handbook of Nature Study lesson to observe the flicker.

Describe the colors of the flicker. (see lesson for specifics).
Observe the beak size and shape.
Did you observe the flicker in flight? What colors did you see flash underneath?

  • If you don’t have a flicker to observe, look for another tree clinging bird in your neighborhood.
  • If you have an outdoor birdfeeder, sit quietly and watch any birds that come to eat during your outdoor time.

Follow-Up Activity:

  • Create a nature journal entry for the flicker, including a sketch in color.
  • Learn how to attract flickers to your yard on this site: Audubon.
  • If you observed another bird for this challenge, you can use the notebook page in the ebook to record your observations.
  • Advanced Study: Create a nesting box for Northern Flickers. Use the information on this website to learn about the decline of flickers in most of the United States and then create a nesting box with plans you can download.
  • Advanced Study: View the birds on this page of All About Birds to pick another bird to compare to the Northern Flicker. Create a nature journal entry sharing those comparisons.

Handbook of Nature Study Ultimate Naturalist Library
Join us for this series of challenges every week here on the Handbook of Nature Study.

Outdoor Hour Challenge Winter Nature Study Continues ebook

If you want to purchase the Winter Nature Study Continues ebook so you can follow along with all the notebooking pages, coloring pages, and subject images, you can join the Ultimate or Journey Membership Levels. See the Join Us page for complete information. Also, you can view the Winter Nature Study Continues Ebook Announcement page for more details.

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Pines, Evergreens, Cones, and Needles

Tree Field Guides

This week has been full of nature study….the informal kind that happens as we go about our everyday life. My boys are a big part of the experience and they discover things in our world that I miss. Their eyes seem to be open to so much around them, while my head is full of schedules and tasks that need to be done. I really must make a conscious effort to clear my head more when we are outdoors.

Northern Flicker

First of all, before I get into the pines and cones, I have to share a rare visitor to our backyard. This Northern flicker was up on the tree and Mr. A spotted it and brought it to my attention. Not the first time we have ever had a flicker in the yard but it has been a long time since we observed this interesting bird. They eat bugs and insects from the grass below the tree but they are considered woodpeckers. They also have a red flash on their wings when they fly.

Our focus on cones and needles this week was highlighted by two events.

Douglas Fir with Cone
The first happened last week when we had a huge windstorm with lots of gusts. The wind brought down small branches and cones on the trail where we walk and we were able to get a good look at both. These are not from a pine but a fir tree, Douglas fir. I love what it says in our field guide about the Douglas fir cone. It says, “mouse tail bracts grow between scales”. Sure enough…there they are.

The second event was a walk on our walking trail where we were trying to notice something interesting about pines. Here is a spot on the trail where there are two different pines growing side by side.

Two Pines
Notice the two different colors of needles.

They both have bundles of three and are about the same length. We are pretty sure after much study of our field guides and online sources that one is a Gray pine and the other is a Ponderosa pine. We are going to take our field guide back with us later today and see if we can nail the identification down positively.

What a great week we have had looking for cones and pines! I know that many of you are experiencing cold snowy weather but here in our woods we are enjoying abundant sunshine and no precipitation.

First Daffodil 2011

Guess what I spotted yesterday in my garden? The first daffodil of the year is starting to bloom! Crazy, crazy weather for us too!

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Birds in Our November World

Can you believe it is almost December? I thought I could fit in another November World post or two before the end of the month. It is surprising what you will see if keep your eyes open!

It has been really cold the last week or so and when I opened my blinds early in the morning a few days ago, this is what I saw at my birdfeeder.

11 24 10 Hummingbird in the feeder

Mr. Hummingbird.

We still have hummingbirds in our yard although the temperatures have been in the low 30s and the world has been frozen. Another day I saw some hummingbirds in my remaining lavender blooms in the front yard. One morning the feeder was frozen so I had to bring it in and defrost it and refill it with more liquid. Two hummingbirds come regularly and sit and feed for long periods of time and then they fly off. I am not sure if they are the same birds over and over or whether they are different birds migrating. So many questions….

11 24 10 Northern Flicker eating 1
Later in the day, this Northern Flicker (red shafted) caught my son’s attention and he had to run in and get me to see it. Over the years Mr. A has become a great spotter of birds and I think it is because we have taken the time, one bird at a time, to get to know them and their habits.

11 24 10 birds The Whole Gang
The Chinese pistache tree in our front yard has little red-orange nuts on it this time of year. The local birds come here quite frequently and there seems to be quite a few migratory birds that stop by once or twice a year to enjoy the nuts. Here is a whole gang of different birds in the tree at one time.

11 24 10 birds Cedar Waxwing
One of my favorite colorful birds was visiting, the Cedar Waxwing.

11 24 10 birds American Robin
Mr American Robin was there too making his presence known.

11 24 10 Western bluebird in the Pistache Tree
And don’t forget Mr. Western bluebird. I see these just about every day now and I love them. We are thinking of finding a place to put a bluebird house for them to nest in but we need to do some more research about size and location.

November World birds seem to cheer even the coldest day up!