Saturday, January 5, 2013

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker Red Shafted
The northern flicker is a woodpecker that is found through out most of North America. Their range extends as far north as northern Canada and Alaska and as far south as Central America. Unlike most woodpecker species the northern flicker is primarily a ground feeder. They eat primarily insects, mostly ants, that they dig up from the dirt. They will also use their slightly curved beak to probe into the ground and then use their long forked tongue to slurp up the ants or other insects.
Northern Flicker Yellow Shafted
 Since it is difficult to find insects in the dirt when the ground is frozen and covered with snow the flicker is one of the few woodpeckers in North America that will migrate south. Most of the flickers in the US will stay on territory year round but flickers in Canada and Alaska migrate south to the southern US or Mexico. Flickers that do stay on territory in northern climates will eat berries and seeds during the winter.
Northern Flicker Yellow Shafted
Their are two subspecies of northern flickers. They are the red-shafted and the yellow-shafted northern flicker. The first photograph is an example of a red-shafted flicker. Red-shafted flickers are found in the western half of North America. Yellow-shafted flicker, second photo, are found in the eastern half of North America. At one time they were considered two separate species but since the frequently hybridize in the central portion of the continent, where their ranges overlap, it was decided by the American Ornithologists Union that they are two subspecies of a single species. You can see in this final picture how the feather shafts are colored, yellow or red, giving the two subspecies their difference in appearance.


theconstantwalker said...

Wonderful images and info.

squirrel said...


Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

We get flickers in the summer but I didn't realize there were two types - thanks for sharing your info and good photos.

Kathy said...

Beautiful bird, and I don't think I've ever seen one here in the piney woods of East Texas.

Anni said...

What an amazing, informative, wonderful post. I have never seen the stripes of yellow on their wings before. Thanks for that. As I said, amazing post!!

And, thanks for linking up at the Bird D'Pot this weekend. Your contributions are always appreciated.

Crafty Gardener said...

very nice flicker photos

Pat said...

Nice detail shots. They're beautiful birds.