These Northern Flickers at Starr Hollow Golf Club, ten miles west
of Granbury, Hood County, Texas on October 5, 1999 were almost
missed as we walked by on the road; initially they were head-high
within the lower foliage, only seven feet from us. Their presence
was given away only by the quiet, low-pitched "wer-wer-wer-wer-wer"
that emanated from the leaves every 15 - 20 seconds.
Eventually they climbed out into view and proceeded to enthrall
us for more than an hour with their behavior:
They stayed very close to each other, moving to be level with
each other when possible; every 15 - 20 seconds one of them (mostly
the male) would initiate a 3 - 4 second joint display whereby
they would bob and sway their heads from side to side (criss-crossing
each other) with jerky small stereotyped movements of the head/bill
(somewhat like a stop-motion film) - plus the very quiet calls
described above; this was accompanied by tail-fanning, and about
five or six times (out of dozens of such events) the wings were
spread and a small flutter included - and once they gently grabbed
bill-tips during such a flutter (see below).
As you can see, this apparently pair-bonding couple consisted
of a male yellow-shafted bird (by size probably the form auratus)
and a female red-shafted bird (probably of the interior form collaris);
this in itself is interesting due to the North-Central Texas location,
where red-shafted birds are quite scarce or rare - but is it normal
for Flicker pairs of any combination to be behaving in this way