My brother-in-law (not the title character in this entry) just bought himself a fantastic digital SLR camera, and has been merrily snapping away. He stayed with us this past weekend, and after a light snowfall got this shot of a visitor in our driveway:
It's definitely a woodpecker, and he caught it just as it was taking flight. Thing is, it matches the pictures we looked up of a Gilded Flicker, but a guidebook I found says they only live in the desert. What was he doing in Boulder? I'll tell you what he was doing. He was eyeballing the siding of my house, sizing it up for a vicious pecking. We've been woken up a half dozen times at 6:00 a.m. by woodpeckers attacking the house. When we first moved here, I noticed a lot of houses had plastic owls hanging up, or drawings that looked like faces two feet across hanging over the neighbors' eaves. I recognized them as being woodpecker scarer-offers, and had second thoughts about living here. I love Boulder, I really do. But I will eat the next frakkin' bird that wakes me up that early. I've taken to keeping tennis balls outside the door to the back yard so I can throw them near (not at) the bird to scare it off. It works, but he's always back the next day. Pain in the butt bird. Sure is pretty though.