An Early Drumroll

After a few days of spring-like weather along the Colorado Front Range, the first tentative drumming of the flickers has begun, at times accompanied by an abbreviated version of their hysterical mating call. This annual ritual usually begins by late February, peaking in March and then gradually fading through April.

Generally triggered by the lengthening daylight, the drumming and calls often wax and wane, depending on the weather.  Since upslope snowstorms are common along the Front Range in late winter and early spring, the flicker displays tend to be more intense on warm, sunny days and rather subdued when cold and snow invade the urban corridor.

Nevertheless, the mating displays of northern flickers are among the earliest signs of spring and are certainly welcomed by most naturalists and homeowners.  Then again, if dead snags are not available for their drumming, these common suburban residents like to use aluminum roof vents, often spooking human residents with their frenzied percussion.