Family: Picidae (Woodpeckers)
The Northern Flicker (or
Yellow-shafted Flicker) measures 12 1/2"-14"
with a wingspan of 18 1/2"-21". The flickers
feet are short with two toes in front and two toes
behind. The bill is slightly arched that is strong and
nearly as long as the head. Upper part of the head and
hind neck light purplish-grey. Both sexes have a red
crescent on the back of the head. The upper parts are
brown, barred with black, a black crescent across the
upper breast with numerous round black spots on on the
sides, lower breast and belly. The rest of the breast is
a reddish-white color spotted with black. The male has a
black streak along each side of the throat. Under surface
of the wings and tail are a rich yellow.
The female lacks the black streaks on the throat and the
black crescent on the breast is smaller. She is somewhat
duller and is nearly the same size as the male.
The flight of this species is strong and performed in a
straighter manner than that of any other woodpeckers.
Their migrations, although partial, many remain even in
winters, are performed at night
When passing from one tree to another on wing, they also
fly in a straight line, until within a few yards of the
spot on which they intend to land, they suddenly raise
themselves a few feet, and fasten themselves to the bark
of the trunk by their claws and tail. The Northern
Flicker easily moves sideways on a small branch, keeping
itself erect, head upwards and tail pressed against the
bard for support. On the ground, where is lands
frequently, it hops.
The song of the Northern Flicker is a loud wick wick wick
wick or a squeaky flick-a, flick-a as in it's name.
Spring arrival is announced by a loud, far-reaching sound
with the long continuous roll of the flicker's drumming
in the early morning, a preliminary of the courtship.
Generally distributed in the United States. Eastern bases
of Rocky Mountains. Extremely common. Resident in the
Courtship of the Northern Flicker is noisy and lively as
three or more birds of both sexes perform a comical
dancing, nodding and bowing or chase each other around or
through branches of a tree. The male and female face each
other on a branch and spread their tails jerking their
heads in a weaving motion and frequently uttering a
wick-up or wake-up call.
The nest site is a cavity (an existing one or newly
excavated) in a tree or stump. Both male and female work
anywhere from 1-3 weeks excavating. Tell-tell signs are
usually chips at the base of the tree or at some small
distance from the nest tree. The nest is anywhere from
2-60 feet above ground and the nest has no nesting
materials but the chips are left at the bottom of the
hole to make a soft bed.
The average number of
eggs consists of 5-7 and are a glossy white color,
translucent shell giving it a delicate pinkish glow. They
size and shape vary, but normally are ovate. Incubation
is performed by both sexes and lasts anywhere from 12-13
days with young leaving nest 25-28 days after hatching.
Natural Feeding Habits:
On the ground, where it frequently lands, it hops with
great ease. The flicker does this to pick up beetles,
caterpillars, or to examine the dead roots of trees, or
the side of a log, from which it procures ants and other
small insects. The Northern Flicker is also fond of
various fruits and berries such as apples, grapes,
persimmons and dogwood berries, pokeberries and
huckleberries. During winter it frequents suet feeders.
Golden-winged Woodpecker, Yellowhammer, Southern
Flicker, Yellow-shafted Woodpecker and Gaffer Woodpecker.
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