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November 25, 2017

Bird of the Week – Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is Alaska’s most colorful woodpecker. If the others are variations on black and white, with maybe a touch of color, the Northern Flicker broke the mold.

Northern Flicker, McCall, Idaho

Northern Flicker, McCall, Idaho

This photo isn’t from Alaska; it’s from Central Idaho, but WC includes it because it captures the remarkable color and patterns of this extravagant bird. Here’s a photo from Alaska.

Northern Flicker Female, Fairbanks

Northern Flicker Female, Fairbanks

Unlike the other woodpeckers posted, this one is primarly a ground-forager, a woodpecker that doesn’t peck wood. Although it does drum to establish territories and does forage on trees from time to time.

The taxonomy of Flickers is . . . difficult. For many years, Red-shafted Flickers and Yellow-shafter Flickers were different species. Then they were lumped together into on species, the Northern Flicker. Now that’s under review.

Flcikers are interesting for other reasons. They have been recognized as “keystone” excavators, carving nest cavities in trees, that may influence the abundance of secondary cavity nesters in forest systems. As just one example, the Grey-headed Chickadee, a rare, far north species, uses old Flicker nest cavities to breed.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.



4 Responses to “Bird of the Week – Northern Flicker”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    Seen 2 count ’em 2 robins in nw iowa this very day. Nearly a month earlier than usual. The sky is falling on wingnut heads. Global warming is happening as we speak.

  2. mike from iowa says:

    Northern Flickers are prettier than yellow-shafted iowa Flickers, I grudgingly admit-grudgingly.

  3. Alaska Pi says:

    Beautiful bird! Have yet to see one real live.
    Thanks WC!

  4. mike from iowa says:

    Beautiful photography, Idaho or not. We have yellow shafted Flickers here and they spend an inordinate amount of time at the base of and all around trees. Most common of the woodpeckers around my iowa, near as I can tell. We have some really dumb red-headed woodpeckers. They spend time on gravel roads and don’t always bother to fly away from oncoming vehicles. Splat!

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