As I followed it with my binoculars, it revealed its white rump, yellow underwings and tail bottom that readily identify it -- and are the reasons it’s sometimes called “yellow-shafted flicker” or “yellowhammer.” It also has been called “polka dot bird” because of the numerous showy black dots on its whitish underparts. Other identifying features are a bright red crescent on the nape of the neck and, on the male, a black “mustache.”
Next to the pileated woodpecker, the dove-size Northern flicker is Georgia’s second-largest woodpecker. It’s also one of our most widespread birds, living in urban areas as well as forests. At one time, it probably was Georgia’s most common woodpecker, but its numbers have plummeted in recent decades due to loss of nesting habitat and competition with other cavity nesters. “The decline is cause for concern,” says the Atlanta Audubon Society.
In the sky: The Orionid meteor shower will be visible for most of next week, peaking at 25 meteors per hour on Thursday night, said David Dundee, astronomer with Tellus Science Museum. Look to the east from about midnight until dawn.
The moon will be full on Friday night -- the “hunter’s moon“ as October’s full moon is known. Venus and Mars set in the west about an hour after sunset. Jupiter rises out of the east at dusk and appears near the moon Tuesday night.