Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus

Head View Northern Flicker
Head view Northern flicker
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head view Nothern Flicker
A female flicker
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The Northern Flicker is the largest bird in the woodpecker family. Have you heard a loud rapping or drumming on your roof, gutter or other metal? It is probably the male flicker during mating season establishing his territory and attracting a mate. There are two varieties of the Northern Flicker, the red shafted and the yellow shafted. Pictured here is a male red-shafted flicker. The female looks the same, except she doesn’t have a mustache. They can frequently be seen pecking bugs up off the ground or flying from the ground to a tree. When they fly away, they undulate in flight. You can see their white-patched rump as they fly.

Unlike other woodpeckers, the flicker generally eats on the ground, a single bird consuming thousands of ants and beetles and a few other insects. In the winter they will eat fruit, seeds, and berries and from backyard suet feeders.

Flickers make distinctive sounds. They have a long, loud, piercing call - 'kleeyer' or 'clearrrr.' During breeding season, they have really loud, long, bold, repeated 'wick-a, wick-a, wick-a' notes - that sounds like most woodpeckers.

The flicker nests in poles, posts, buildings, nest boxes, and banks six to twenty feet above the ground. The flicker lays 3-12 white eggs, oval in shape. Both parents incubate the eggs. The young are out of the nest in 25-28 days.

The flicker may be seen in open woodlands, farms, empty lots in urban areas and yards all over the United States, Canada, and in parts of Mexico and Central America. It is mostly a non-migrator.

By Martha Van Natta

Additional information: see Wikpedia - Northern Flicker

Updated 7/23/2016 Updated 11/14/2015 Updated 3/9/2014