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AMATEURS GUIDE: Flickers & fishers are seen

Fishers and flickers have been spotted in the region.

"This morning, when I opened the blinds on the picture window, something big and furry ran away from the feeder and jumped onto the big jack pine like a squirrel," e-mailed Stan Gardinich of Becida. "It was not shaped like a coon. It had shorter legs and was much sleeker. It had a smaller head. It got off the tree and ran behind the woodshed and jumped onto another tree and climbed a few feet up. I have seen marten and this was bigger than that. I do not think it was a wolverine because I do not think they climb like that. Also the fur was very dark."

What Stan was describing, according to DNR expert Blane Klemek, was a fisher or fisher cat.

"Not many people get to see these fascinating animals," Klemek told Gardinich. "Fishers are known as the fastest tree climbing mammal in North America. They also prey on porcupines!"

They are fierce buggers indeed. They have a raccoon-like head with little round ears that gives them a teddy bear look. Don't let looks deceive you.

News accounts have them attacking large dogs, cats and even small humans.

Stan mentioned that he has rabbits. We can only hope they are still in the present tense.


We've had a yard full of flickers lately. They're kind of a break from the usual woodpeckers that tear up my wood siding this time of year.

Flicker, as you can see by my mediocre photo, are camera shy.

They're identifiable by the bright red "kerchief" on their backs and their belly speckles and striped wings.

They're really colorful to watch flying. You see a flash of color, dots and then a white streak on their underside.

Ours were eating God-knows-what kind of bugs on the ground, but they're entitled to them. All of them.

You wonder how they can suck up anything with those curved bills, but they obviously do. They have a rather chubby physique compared to woodpeckers.

I'm hoping to get better photos next time.


A special shout out and get well goes to Helen Marsh, one of the contributors to this column.

Helen is recuperating from a broken hip. An avid downhill skier, we're sending her good karma so her hip heals in time for the powder season.

And Helen would never take the bunny slopes, ailing hip or not. She'll jump right back on the black diamond runs.

As always, send your sightings and photos to

It's fall. Get out and enjoy the colors!

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364