The Northern Flickers are a type of woodpecker that have a charming personality and eye-catching black-scalloped feathers. If you encounter one while strolling outside, don’t be surprised if it flies off the ground. These birds mainly feed on ants and beetles, using their unique, curved beak to dig for their food. It’s unusual to see a woodpecker searching for insects on the ground. However, when they take flight, you’ll notice a striking white patch on their rump and a pop of color on their wings, either yellow or red, depending on your location in the world.
Even though the Northern Flicker has the ability to climb up trees and peck on wood like other woodpeckers, this bird species prefers to search for food on the ground. The flicker digs into the earth to find ants, which is their primary source of sustenance. To extract the ants, they use their long, prickly tongue to scoop them up.
In the past, it was believed that the red-shafted and yellow-shafted Northern Flickers were different species. However, in areas ranging from Alaska to Texas Panhandle, these two types often interbreed. As a result, their offspring often inherit characteristics that are a blend of both parental traits. Additionally, although it is less frequent, hybridization can also occur between Red-shafted Flickers and Gilded Flickers.
The Northern Flicker, a kind of woodpecker found in North America, is known for its migratory behavior. Unlike other woodpeckers that tend to stay in one place, the Northern Flicker moves southward during the winter months. But there are some individuals who choose to stay in the northern areas despite the cold weather.
Similar to their woodpecker counterparts, Northern Flickers typically construct their nests within tree cavities. However, it’s not uncommon for them to take up residence in deserted clay burrows formerly inhabited by Bank Swallows or Belted Kingfishers.
Similar to most woodpeckers, Northern Flickers employ a technique called object-dancing to protect their territory and communicate with each other. The objective is to create the loudest possible noise, which is why they sometimes peck on metallic objects. In Wyoming, a Northern Flicker was heard drumming on an old tractor from a distance of half a mile.
A male Northern Flicker with a golden shaft, believed to be the oldest of its kind, was found in Florida over 9 years and 2 months ago. As for the red-shafted species of Northern Flicker, the oldest known specimen lived at least 8 years and 9 months.