Flight of a Flicker

By Jennifer Taylor, Animal Care Coordinator & Internship Coordinator
Photos By Kerry Reid
Our Office Admin Kerry, rushed to Wild Care last week with a bird that had just struck a window at her house. It was a female Northern Flicker. She knew there were babies up in a hollow part of a tree in her yard. She told us she has been watching this pair of Flickers since April – from witnessing them mating, to seeing the male bringing the female food while she brooded their eggs, to frantically flying back and forth with beaks full of bugs to feed the babies all day long. When she heard the SMACK on the window, she knew it was a bird, but it was heartbreaking when she saw who the bird was.
The bird was in shock. It had obvious head trauma and a very swollen eye. Leah immediately placed her into the Oxygen tank and we all knew there was not much hope for this

 mother woodpecker. Thank goodness, or I should say thank all of our generous donors who have equipped us with our Oxygen machines! Wild Care treats many birds with head trauma. Sometimes it is raptors who crash hard onto asphalt while swooping their prey, to songbirds crashing into windows that they interpret as open sky. These birds are flying very fast and when they hit it is high impact. Oxygen is so helpful and often the first thing and sometimes the only thing we can do for these patients.
This Flicker was in O2 for almost 48 hours, and improved quickly. The swelling went down and the demeanor of the bird improved dramatically. She had vision in both eyes! She was placed in a soft dog crate, where she could grab on the walls vertically like woodpeckers prefer. We enriched it with pine needles, dirt leaves and buggy wet logs, but we could tell all she wanted was to get back to her babies. After 4 days, I called Kerry and told her she was ready to go. She had been watching the father Flicker feeding the babies as best he could, but knew it lessened the chances of survival for the young. The bird was released close to her nest and flew out without saying good bye. Just the way we like it.

If you find an animal in
distress, please call us at:


Our helpline and our facility
are open EVERY DAY from
9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
We are located at the
Orleans rotary (on the Eastham side).

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