Flicker enters cottage through chimney

TitleFlicker enters cottage through chimney
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1958
AuthorsJr. OSewall Pet
JournalJack Pine Warbler

My cottage at the UMBS, Cheboygan, has a fireplace whose chimney, on the outside of the building, rises straight to an unscreened top three feet above the highest point of the roof. The chimney is mostly stone, except the uppermost part, which is smooth, tile pipe. The bore of this pipe is much narrower than the rest of the chimney's interior. When my wife and I returned to the cottage one afternoon in late July, 1957, after an absence during the noon hour, we found a Yellow-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus) fluttering against the inside of a window. The only way the bird could have entered the cottage was through the chimney. Support for this assumption was found in telltale ashes on the hearth where they had been blown by the bird when it flopped into the fireplace and took off into the cottage. The flicker, an adult male, was in worn plumage and molting. Why did the bird enter the chimney? It seems unlikely that the bird could have been attracted to the chimney either to drum on the tile-pipe top or to explore the interior for a nesting site. In the first place, the nesting season was about over; in the second place, the bird was molting. Possibly it had entered the chimney to roost. If so, it chose a peculiar time--mid-day. I can only guess that the fllicker was following a woodpecker's natural inclination to investigate interiors, usually of trees, at any time of day or season, with or without purpose. In this case, the bird chose an interior whose entrance (through the tile pipe) was a one-way passage, its wall too smooth to allow return by climbing. Once inside the chimney, the bird had just one exit, which was below, through the fireplace.