• Nature

Caring for a Northern Flicker at Pemi

I was lucky enough to spend 10 days at Pemi this July, and one of my most memorable experiences while there was this: I was walking by the Nature Lodge when some campers called out that they were caring for a baby bird, while supervised by Wayne Scott and Deb Kure. It turns out that the bird had been rescued by Julia Kerr, who saw it fall from a tree after being attacked by what looked like a red squirrel; she picked it up in the interest of keeping her household pets away from it.

It was a Northern Flicker, a type of woodpecker, and over the next few days Wayne (an ornithologist) and the campers cared for it. The bird would hungrily guzzle down bits of worms that Wayne would feed it, easing the food down its mouth with a pair of tweezers. Its strong woodpecker claws would grip tightly onto Wayne’s hand, and all the while it made the most adorable squeaky “feed me!” calls. Its temporary home in the Nature Lodge was a small cardboard box with paper towels in it, which sat within a metal cage to keep any would-be predators away. (Click here to watch a cute video of Deb Kure feeding the bird in July.)

Wayne weighed it each day, and we all watched it grow and develop from a slightly injured baby bird that seemed like it might not survive, to a vigorous-looking woodpecker with brown and gray feathers and a splash of red on the back of its head.

Eventually, Wayne dropped it off with the able people at the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. We wish it well– may it have a long, happy life, filled with lots of delicious critters for supper!

-Rob Verger

Editor’s note: We thought we’d explain with a little more detail the process behind caring for the Flicker and then bringing it to the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. Pemi’s Head of Nature, Larry Davis, explains: “The flicker was brought in and we immediately began to look for a rehabilitator while we gave the bird the care that we could. We did get the list [of rehabilitators] and started calling. Several were already ‘full’ and we finally found one in Madison, all the way across the state. She could not commit to taking the bird for two or three days, at which point we were able to ‘contract’ with the Science Center to keep the bird until the rehab person from Madison could pick it up.”