Rescuing Baby Flicker Bird
by Louise OLeary
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.