Rescuing Baby Flicker Bird

by Louise OLeary
(Cheney, WA)

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 exotic animal vet tech I decided to capture him and see if there were any broken bones. There were none but his primaries on the right side were completely broken and bent beyond repair or use. I carefully pulled the feathers so that the follicles would be stimulated to grow new feathers. So now I have a bird in a big kennel and we are all awaiting the day when he has long enough new feathering to fly.

In the mean time he has been on a diet of worms and super meal worms with avian vitamins added daily. He has two different suet feeders in the kennel that he seems to like or at least he eats from them. I have fed him small ants and a few ant larvae that I found under a log. I hunt beetles and various other critters for him.

Here is my dilemma. I raided a Western Thatch Ant mound of several hundreds of nasty carnivorous, but dearly loved by Flicker creatures and am now trying to figure out exactly how to feed these to the flicker. Any suggestions and/or comments would be greatly appreciated. If figure he will be ready to fly in another 4-5 weeks and so would like to give him as natural a diet as possible. Flickers have been know to roll in these mounds to get the ants to squirt formic acid and so rid the flicker of feather mites. Pretty cool. I am an environmental education instructor at a Wildlife Refuge here in WA State and have a lot of avian experience but how to feed these ants to him while he is in his kennel eludes me.

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Jul 11, 2014
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Feeding injured flicker NEW
by: Jenny

July 2014. I also just found an injured what I now learned is a young flicker. One bad leg and cant fly...I took him home and decided to trap some ants that have been frequenting my cats canned food. Mashed cat food into liquid and managed to suck some ants with cat food broth into an eyedropper and waited for an open mouth. He seemed to like it, I hope I got enough down him, it wasn't easy. Also plenty of water. Try a honey bottle instead, easier to get food thru tip. Put mixture in a blender might help. Hope he makes it!

Jun 15, 2013
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rescuing baby Flicker
by: banina

When a baby flicker hatches how much food and how often does it get fed from the mother? I understand it eats ants, moths, butterflys, ant and insect larve, cattrpillars but I have also read if one soaks kitten chow that is good, too. Any responses?

Sep 20, 2011
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Rescuing Baby Flicker
by: Anonymous

we just found a wounded Flicker. Whatever happened to your bird?

Aug 31, 2010
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Baby flicker
by: Anonymous

Can you put his kennel or something like it on-top of the mound for a day?

Aug 20, 2010
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Well...There is Regurgitation....
by: Susan

Hi Louise

What a fascinating story. It is my understanding that baby flickers are fed by regurgitation. (And coincidentally ants also feed their young on regurgitated food.)

Somehow I don't think you want to explore that option too deeply. :-)

(That might be taking your mother-in-law duties above and beyond the call of duty.)

Please keep us posted on your young flicker.

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