Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a common woodpecker found in North America.

Yellowhammer

Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus

Description:

They come in two different colors -- the Yellow Shafted Flicker is found in the northern and eastern regions, while the Red Shafted Flicker is found in the West. This is a medium to large bird, 11-12 inches tall, with a wingspan of 17 to 20 inches. They weigh between 3.88 and 5.65 ounces.

The color of Northern Flickers is grayish-brown with a black crescent shape on the chest. They are barred on top and spotted down below. The yellow or red wing is easy to see in flight. The male bird has a red or black mustache stripe while the female either has none at all or a brown one. 

Diet:

Northern Flickers are one of very few woodpeckers that find their food on the ground -- in this case, they eat ants. They will also consider eating seeds and fruits if necessary. They love to eat ants, which are their favorite food and would rather find their food on the ground, and while they will eat fruits or seeds in a pinch, the Flicker is rarely seen feeding at bird feeders. They dig the ants out of the dirt and lap them up with their long tongues.

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Northern Flickers interesting to watch feed on the ground. Unfortunately not everyone gets to see them. If you are fortunate enough to see them in your yard please tell us about them.

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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On the migratory route 
Each year twice a year for about 4 or 5 days our back yard is covered with Northern Flickers. I love to see them in the Spring because that means warm …

New visitor to our backyard! 
I spotted a new bird in our backyard! At first I thought it was a baby turkey running around an old rotted stump in the center of the yard but, after stopping …

Helen 
Saw this bird climbing up the trunk of our maple trees. It is about 8 inches with black and beige markings, long beak, three toes, large white and black …

Mira River Cape Breton, NS Canada Resident 
Not much to say except it is the first time sighting this type of bird. Looks identical to the Northern Flicker. Black chest with black spots around …

Dove like bird with black collar 
This bird came and sat on our back fence a couple of days in a row and hasn't been seen since. Dove-like with a black collar, black freckles on the chest …

Pacific Northwest Large Robin size tree lclinging or perching gray bird 
This unusual bird is large like a Robin with a long beak. It is light or gray color, with a black quarter moon shape on its chest and possibly circular …

Northern Flicker Eastern U.S. enjoying a Winter Fountain 
This winter we've added a heater to our backyard birdbath fountain and it's created a wonderful winter habitat for the wildlife in our backyard. In February …

Northern Flicker in Harpers Ferry, WV 
A big, beautiful Northern Flicker perched on my window this morning. He was content there until my dog walked up to him. We live off the Potomac River …

Falling flicker  
One day a friend of ours was cutting down trees in his back yard. Little did he know one of the trees had a nest of Northern Flickers. Down the tree fell …

Northern Flicker in Acton Ontario 
I have never seen these birds before until this morning. A pair of them were feeding on the ground underneath one of my bird feeders. Quickly, I dove …

Red-shafted vs Yellow-shafted Flickers 
Red-shafted Flickers are common in our area near Seattle. However, two years ago there was a Yellow-shafted Flicker at the feeder, and I got a photo of …

Front Lawn Sighting 
I was looking out the window when I happened to spot a bird that I hadn't seen before. I grabbed a couple of pictures and googled what I had seen. This …

Bird in California? 
Picture is taken from a YT video.

For Fellow Flicker Fanciers 
I live 25 miles south of Seattle. I have always enjoyed the Red-shafted Northern Flickers that frequent my peanutbutter cakes. This winter I was surprised …

flicker at the feeder 
As we have done all winter long, bird seed was spread out on the snow in our backyard, which backs onto a wooded ravine. My husband and I were enjoying …

Dove Family? 
This bird is a little bigger in size than the common Mourning Dove that visits our backyard. We've never seen anything like this and would appreciate …

Bird identification 
I live in Lawrence county located in southern Indiana and it's Feburary 22, 2013. I seem to have many of these in my yard searching for food on the ground, …

A Multitude of Flickers! 
We live on a wooded cul-de-sac in central Indiana. We know that the flickers are with us year round because we can always hear their calls. Generally we …

Is this a Northern Flicker? 
My 3 year old son found this little guy in my back yard and he is unable to fly. I don't really know anything about birds, but I do know I don't want …

Nesting Northern Flickers 
I have a pair of Northern Flickers making a nest in my tree that is next to my house and right over my patio. I live across the street from a school so …

Flicker at hummingbird feeder 
I live in Mesa, AZ. The only time I have seen flickers here has been when they are sipping nectar from the hummingbird feeder on my patio. I do not know …

Woodpecker? 
this picture was taken in central Pennsylvania in the Spring of this year. The beak and breast markings lead me to think woodpecker family. I observed …

different bird 
The bird has black dots on the belly and black stripes on the back it also has a red triangle on the back of the head. Comment This bird is a Northern …

I hate flickers 
These fricken flickers are killing all the trees around my cottage by eating the bottom of the trees I'm desperate. Help.

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Flicker Comparison Photos 
Thanks to Fred in Ohio for his great photo of a Yellow-shafted Flicker. I thought I would combine his photo with my photos of the Red-shafted Flicker …

Northern Flicker in Huntsville Ontario Canada 
Here is my picture of a Northern Flicker, well I have many. They hang out on my lawn from spring to fall, we have a sandy soil and lots of ants to attract …

More on Flickers! 
I love our Flicker guests. We live near Seattle, WA and have red-shafted flickers year round. They love our suet cakes and even hang onto the hanging feeder …

Confused about Flickers 
We are trying to figure out what some bird visitors are in our yard. Have found pictures - some say Yellow Hammer and some say Northern Flicker. We are …

A Pair of Northern Flickers 
A pair of Northern Flickers have visited my bird feeders several times in the 30 days. I now plan to build a house for them.

Rescuing Baby Flicker Bird 
A juvenile northern flicker showed up at our suet feeder about 3 weeks ago. He flopped around for 3 days and was unable to get airborne. As a retired …

Flicker after my Chihuahua 
I live outside of Milwaukee, WI today was the first time I've ever seen a Flicker! It was literally following my Chihuahua around the backyard for over …

Northern Flicker on shepherds hook 
I have been taking pictures but I am in no way a professional, the picture I posted before was a good one, but they were not on the feeder, I had to go …

Flickers Galore Not rated yet
We live in the Midwest and have been seeing as many as ten flickers eating in my neighbors yard. I think they are eating grubs. I have never seen that …

Male Northern Flicker? Albany area, NY Not rated yet
At about noon, I sat down to take a breather and noticed that a couple of Robins have taken residence in a bush next to my house. I was amused watching …

Female Northern Flicker at my Feeder-March 6, 2016 Not rated yet
Albany, Oregon. I woke up to find a beautiful female eating at my platform feeder 6 feet from my dining window under the carport. After she ate there …

Beautiful Northern Flicker in East Garafraxa, Ontario, Canada Not rated yet
We recently moved to a new house in East Garafraxa, Ontario, Canada, and on June 17, 2015 I decided to take a break from cleaning and unpacking to eat …

Yellow-shafted flicker on Isle-aux-Coudres, Charlevoix, Quebec Not rated yet
Last week, we noticed a strange bird on our front lawn digging in the ground. A visiting friend, and bird lover, from Victoria, B C, identified it as a …

northern flicker???? Not rated yet
large brown bird seen in central park at 6 am. When in flight it looked like there was a white triangle on its back that was previously hidden by its …

a Northern Flicker in Portage LA Prairie, Manitoba Not rated yet
Looking out my kitchen window this morning, I was amazed to see this bird penetrating the ground with its beak. After a soft rain yesterday soften the …

Flock of Flickers at the Feeders. Not rated yet
I had 6 flickers flocking at my suet feeders this morning. They were fussing with each other to compete for a spot. I have never seen this many at the …

Northern Flicker Not rated yet
I have never seen these birds before. I live in Southern Wyoming. Two of these birds flew into my backyard and they were digging in the ground with their …

20 flickers eating grubs in my yard Not rated yet
I've always had yellow shafted flickers here but lately I've seen as many as 20 digging grubs in my yard at first I could not tell what they eating. Then …

Flicker eating dogwood fruit Not rated yet
I saw a flicker eating fruit on a dogwood tree. It really looked funny as the branches were very flimsy compared to the weight of the flicker and it had …

Anne  Not rated yet
This flicker was eating a trail of ants in a crease in the cement around our pool. He was very noisy and very pretty. Sept 15, 2013. We live in Brantford, …

Lynn Not rated yet
I saw a Northern Flicker? for the first time, June, 2013, on my side lawn after living at my home in Hamilton Ontario since 1976. The perfect red triangle …

Injured female flicker Not rated yet
My son rescued an injured flicker from our cat after the flicker had hit a window yesterday. She is alert, eats ants we give her, drinks water from a shallow …

Norther Flicker in my front yard! Not rated yet
While looking out my kitchen window, what do I see? A Northern Flicker landing in my front yard! What a rare treat this was. We were fortunate enough …

Northern Flicker in North Vancouver Not rated yet
A male Flicker has been making his presence known for several weeks by calling all day from various areas within the neighbourhood. Now, he has taken …

ground bird Not rated yet
Gray, buff and brown with distinct red spot on back of neck. Speckled body. Long beak. Pigeon sized or slightly larger. Comment: It is a Flicker. …

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She's been there over 40 minutes! Not rated yet
None of the other birds that visit my feeders hang around as long as the flickers. This homemade mix attracts pileated woodpeckers (who though very shy, …

Morning dove or woodpecker? Not rated yet
I am trying to identify a bird I haven't seen before. I live in eastern NC. These birds are with a flock of robins and have the same ground feeding habits, …

What kind of bird did I see ? Not rated yet
In the Sacramento area a larger size bird like a very plump robin. Somehow seemed like a young bird. A long, fairly straight beak, beige color. Light …

what bird is this? Not rated yet
large bird with long tail and long pointy beak; black triangle patch on breast; red ring around neck; eating berries on our dogwood tree Comment …

snapper1@ptd.net Not rated yet
this bird is about the size and coloring of a dove and has a very bright red spot on the back of its head. seen in eastern pa Comment Could be a Northern …

Nesting Pair Not rated yet
I have a pair of flickers that worked for DAYS excavating a nesting cavity in a tree in my yard. Two days ago starlings began tossing the chips out of …

Nesting Flickers Not rated yet
We have a pair of Flickers that have made a cavity in our backyard. The male has been "standing" in front of the hole for hours now, not moving just peering …

need help in identifying bird Not rated yet
9 inches; strong light colored beak; tan head, very black patch under throat; the back is tan and speckled; positions itself on poles like a woodpecker …

Have you seen this bird? Not rated yet
A somewhat hefty dove type bird with a long-ish beak, like a sandpiper. It had a short tail, and brown and white feathers that resemble a quail in pattern. …

Flicker in the Owls' House Not rated yet
Last year we put up a lovely wooden house, sized to fit a Western Screech Owl (of which we have many), up in the Sequoia in our back yard. Last spring …

Surprised by these beauties Not rated yet
We recently realized just what an ant "problem" we have in a particular area of our front yard. Today, my daughter calls me to see two birds we have seen …

little flickers Not rated yet
I have a nesting pair in my house and I can't get rid of them. They have laid 6 eggs and running them off now does not seem right. Does any one know how …

Yellow-Shafted Flicker Working Out a Nest In Maple Tree Not rated yet
Imagine my surprise when I discovered that a knocking sound grabbing my attention was from a Yellow-Shafted Flicker working out his nest in a dead branch …

Two Flickers In My Yard Not rated yet
I have two in my yard. I've been watching them for a week now. They are digging up what appear to be grubs since they are rather good size and white.No …

Northern Flicker at feeder Not rated yet
I have been taking pictures out the window when I saw a huge bird land on the shepherds hook. The suet cake feeder is on the shepherds hook, I got this …

Yellow Shafted Flicker Not rated yet
Susan I have these pictures that i thought was a Northern Flicker. Hey thanks for helping me. Comment Fred, he is a Northern Flicker - the Yellow- …

Working hard to get the Flickers to stay Not rated yet
We moved to Colorado Springs and have worked hard to encourage birds to visit us. To our suprise we had some male Northern Flickers show up one day this …

Yes, Flickers love suet! Not rated yet
We live in Western Washington and have flickers around all year. I love them. This is a photo of a male flicker at our suet cake the day before Thanksgiving. …

Flickers in our Tree! Not rated yet
We live in eastern Washington and are having unusual Thanksgiving weather. We have had snow on and off for 6 days now with about 6-8 inches on the ground. …

Two Pair in locust tree posturing/challenging each other on different branches.  Not rated yet
My lady friend and I witnessed 2 pairs of Northern Flickers on separate branches. They were bobbing up and down and advancing toward each other aggressively. …

Northern Flicker Not rated yet
I love the Northern Flicker they are in our yard all the time, they love ants and we have alot of them. So I'm glad they hang out here!!! Comment …

In the Early Morning Not rated yet
I was sitting down at breakfast when my dad said look at this bird. We're bird lovers so we always keep an eye out. We saw the bird but had no idea what …

The Trio Treat Not rated yet
About an hour prior to sunset and I heard some unusual peep like sounds on the gravel drive in front of my home. There were 3 flickers. Their behavior …

New Visitor to our yard Not rated yet
A pair of Yellow Shafted Flickers showed up on the lawn this morning. A couple of hours later I spotted one of them in the front yard on the sidewalk. …

Woodpecker moved in without my say. Not rated yet
A Northern Flicker (or a pair of them?) has moved into my house. He or she had pecked away at my siding to make a hole in it and has removed the insulation …

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Help With Woodpeckers! Not rated yet
THE YELLOWHAMMER HAS BEEN A DEVIL TO MY LAKE HOUSE. IT DESTROYS THE "DRYVIT" EXTERIOR COATING OF THE HOUSE AND PECKS A HUGE HOLE IN THE SIDE OF THE HOUSE …

THE RESCUE Not rated yet
TODAY A BEAUTIFUL NORTHERN FLICKER FLEW INTO MY WINDOW AND FELL IN THE BUSHES IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE. I HAD TO RESCUE IT FROM IN BETWEEN THE BRANCHES OF …

Mount Vernon Northern Flickers Not rated yet
We have bird feeders hanging in our plum tree outside our kitchen window. We have a variety of birds who come to feed, but were delighted to see a couple …

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Nesting Habits:

Flickers make their nests in dead trees by digging a hole. The different colored Flickers do breed with one another so you might see an offspring that has varying degrees of these two colors. On occasion they will also mate with a Gilded Flicker, with the Gilded Flicker considered to be a species on its own. Northern Flickers have clutches with anywhere from 3 to 12 white eggs.

More Information:

They can be found in open areas, such as woodlands, on the edge of the forest and is also common in urban areas. The species breeds across all of North America from Alaska down through northern Canada and the United States, as far south as Central America and Cuba. The Red Shafted Northern Flicker breeds from Alaska south to the western part of North Dakota and Colorado, and then south into Mexico. They spend winters in areas of southern Canada and southward from there.

Their song sounds like wik-wik-wik or wik-a-wik-a-wik-a with a single "peah" on the end. Although the bird likes to forage on the ground, you still can find them hammering on trunks of trees.

Of particular note is the fact that the Yellow Shafted Flicker is the State Bird of Alabama, although it goes by its local name of Yellowhammer. According to history, in the Civil War, Confederate troops from Huntsville, Alabama joined the war with yellow-trimmed uniforms and were jokingly referred to as yellowhammers. 

Read more about the Flicker Woodpecker 

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