Woodland Birds, Pacific Northwest
Another of our winter visitor to our feeders is the northern flicker. It is a pleasure to watch them hanging onto a feeder or walking on the snow below, eating frozen sunflower seeds.
The northern flicker population on the coast is quite large and they can be observed on a regular basis.
The northern flicker is a large member of the woodpecker family. It measures about up to 35 cm from head to tail. Its head is gray, with a noticeable red to orange patch on the back part. Its bottom sides are light brown with dark brown or black specks.
Dark, curved bars may be found on its brown-gray wings, the wing feathers have yellow edges. The area under its wings may also be colored orange. The male Northern flicker has a mustache streaked of red or black, while the female has a brown mustache stripe or none. This breed can be found all throughout North America.
In courtship, pairs will proceed with a ritual wherein they bob heads and let out a distinct mating call simultaneously.
Northern flickers, being woodpeckers, are able to dig their own tree cavities for nesting at heights up to 18 meters. The female northern flicker typically lays up to 9 eggs, all usually a pure white color. Male and female will then take turns incubating the eggs for about 12 days. They will then raise their offspring for about 4 weeks, after which the birds fledge and leave the nest.
An odd habit of the northern flicker is feeding on the ground, in comparison to most members of the woodpecker family that normally feed on trees.
Ants are its main source of nourishment, though this breed also enjoys fruits, seeds, and berries, as well as some insects caught from the air. Northern flickers may easily be attracted to backyards that have hanging feeders containing hulled sunflower and black oil sunflower seeds.