SIB “Bird of the Week” – Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker – Colaptes auratus
Length:  11-12.2″; Wingspan: 16.5-20.1″; Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz.

Northern Flicker (yellow-shafted) © Bill Bunn
Northern Flicker (yellow-shafted) © Bill Bunn

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.

Brown and black barred back with pale underparts with black spots. Black mark on chest. They have no red nape (males have red nape crescent). Brown or gray face and throat contrasts with underparts

Flickers often feed on the ground, probing for ants and other invertebrates. They also eat seeds, acorns, nuts, and grain. They forage on trunks and limbs and may fly-catch. They will perch to eat fruits and berries on outer branches.

Northern Flickers spend lots of time on the ground, and when in trees they’re often perched upright on horizontal branches instead of leaning against their tails on a trunk. They fly in an up-and-down path using heavy flaps interspersed with glides, like many woodpeckers.

Flickers are declining in many areas. However, they seem to be relatively common on Seabrook in the Creekwatch, Duneloft area where they are seen and heard year round, as well as on the golf courses.

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by:  Judy Morr
Photographs provided by: All About Bird website

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

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