In only two weeks, on April 28th, Wallowa Lake Lodge will open its doors to guests. But already, a number of long-time summer guests are arriving. A tour of the Lodge’s spacious grounds this week found them setting up their homes, and making family plans.
Three Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) -- large brown-speckled migratory woodpeckers that dine mostly on ants and beetles and live for about 9 years-- raced from tree to tree above the wetlands. Threesomes are problematic, whether bird or beast. In this case, two males vied for the attention of a single female. The aerial acrobatics-- fast and at times furious—centered around a Douglas Fir snag with many inviting holes for nesting. I’m not sure which suitor prevailed. But we can expect to see a new brood of Flickers come late May—which is good, because this native woodpecker’s population has declined by almost 50% since 1966, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Flicker/lifehistory
Steller’s Jays (Cyanocitta stelleri), a mostly summer resident at the Lodge, explored the cabins and lodge grounds, staking out summer territory. A bold, inquisitive and intelligent bird, they are close cousins of crows (Corvidae), with an iridescent blue body and attention-grabbing black crest of feathers on their heads. Like crows, Steller’s Jays prosper where there are humans. They frequent campgrounds (Think Wallowa Lake State Park….) picnic areas, as well as the Lodge and its cabins. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Stellers_Jay/lifehistory