The flickers are back. They probably haven't truly been "away," just invisible while nesting and raising their young. There are people in the area who consider these birds such a nuisance that they shoot them.
The flickers can be annoying; they home in on a ridgepole or porch post and hammer relentlessly and noisily at the wood. Ideally they turn their attentions to dead limbs or stumps of trees, a rather scarce feature in these parts. I tend to overlook their drilling tendancies because they are such colorful and interesting birds.
On a mid-winter morning our hired man, who had been working in the garage, opened the entry door and shouted for me to come out quickly. A flicker had swooped into the garage, flown smack into a window and now lay motionless on the doormat. I cautiously picked up the tumbled body which was very limp. The head lolled and the bird's long red tongue hung from its beak. I carried it outside and laid it on a snowbank near the pond. Having second thoughts I asked our hired man to check on it. I beleived if the bird was not "graveyard dead" it was badly injured and should be put down. Hired man reappeared and announced excitedly that when he picked up the flicker it had suddenly lurched out of his hand and flown off.
Looking out the picture window, I witnessed its bumbling flight as it came to a shaky landing on a high branch, where it was immediately joined by a second flicker. Bird number one perched, feathers disordered, shuddering a bit, the very picture of a befuddled creature with a severe headache. The anxiety of the second bird was obvious. While its friend [mate?] hovered, seeming to offer encouragement, the stunned bird slowly regained its wits. When the pair finally left the tree, it was in a series of short trial flights. I've always hoped the recovery was complete.