Saturday, February 6, 2016

Northern Flicker. A Quilt and a Bird.

The Northern Flicker. 
(Colaptes auratus)

photo by Kent Keller (

"Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage. On walks, don’t be surprised if you scare one up from the ground. It’s not where you’d expect to find a woodpecker, but flickers eat mainly ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bill. When they fly you’ll see a flash of color in the wings – yellow if you’re in the East, red if you’re in the West – and a bright white flash on the rump." - The Sibley Guide to Birds

Hiking in the mountains of Santa Fe, my husband and I heard the noise of flickers knocking on the trees. Two male flickers were fighting about something just above the trees. They are beautiful birds all spots and stripes with bright flashes of red.

Flickers are Derek's favorite bird. They are one of my favorites too. When Derek and I were dating we were both living in (separate) off campus houses with friends while we were undergraduates at the University of Denver. The houses were only a few blocks from each other and I remember many walks between those houses in the residential neighborhood around DU. In the early morning and in the early evening the flickers would come out to hunt.

Walking in the New Mexico mountains with Derek ten years later, the flickers were still fighting, hunting, and scavenging. Derek and I are still walking.

Sometimes you see something and you know it needs to become a quilt. I knew my flicker quilt was not going to be a literal bird quilt. I wanted to try to capture the colors and movement in the birds feathers. I just started cutting fabric and sewing it again. Triangles and circles, to make stripes and dots. I wanted the quilting to be irregular and organic. 

I gave this quilt to Derek and he promptly wrapped it around himself. Later I found it in his office. I think he likes it. Flickers are his favorite bird.

Quilt Stats: 
Name: Flicker
Size: Approximately 65" x 70"
Pattern: Improv, with lots of straight lines, but no pattern.
Fabric: So many scraps....
Quilting: Organic lines with the walking foot using Aurifil thread
Finished: January 2015