As I mentioned in my previous post, the Northern Flicker pair who had been hanging around my box finally got down to laying eggs on April 30th. Barring a mishap when the male accidentally jumped into the box and crushed the second egg, things seemed to be going okay for a couple days. Then the male suddenly stopped coming around.
Though the female gamely laid another few eggs for a final total of 4, her calls never induced her missing mate to return. This is problematic because the male Flicker is the one who is the most attentive, brooding the eggs the most, especially at night. I noticed the female coming to the nest maybe twice a day, once in the morning and once later in the afternoon, but in between the eggs went unprotected.
In the interim, I noticed a Starling enter the box at least once. It appeared alone, but seemed excited to find the cavity unminded. While it pushed around the eggs a bit the time I saw it, I was relieved that it didn’t try to pierce them or chuck them from the box.
This morning, however, a Flicker, perhaps the previous female or a new female seemed to come to a decision to end the nesting attempt. Northern Flickers will re-bond with a new mate if their old one dies or disappears, so it’s quite possible this is the same female who laid the eggs and she’s clearing out for a new brood with another partner. One by one she took the eggs up in her bill and carried them off, or, as in the case with one egg, unceremoniously tossed it out of the box to splatter on my deck.
After the eggs were disposed of, a male Flicker was definitely in the nest cavity probing at the bottom of the box. The two have been in and out of the box drumming and calling for most of the day so I can only hope this is the start of a new beginning and not the end.
I’ll be giving out more updates as they occur.