Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is a year round resident, although some may migrate a bit further south in the winter. They are an unusual woodpecker in that they are often found on the ground where they search for their favorite snack: ants. They have a brown back, light brown and gray head and neck, a black collar and a white rump patch that is easily seen when the bird is flying. On the other hand, most woodpeckers are black with varying patterns of white. There are two subspecies, one in eastern North America and the other in the west. The eastern subspecies is referred to as “yellow shafted” and have a golden color on their underside. The western subspecies is “red shafted” and is salmon red underneath. There can be some mixing of the two types where their ranges abut.

The eastern Flickers have a red crescent on their nape and the males have a black moustache. Females lack the moustache. (Any similarity with humans is purely coincidental!) This is the male.

This female, no moustache, is demonstrating another Flicker characteristic. In addition to doing a lot of ground foraging, Flickers will often perch on branches while other woodpeckers generally cling to the surface of the trunk or a limb of the tree.

This is a female in flight showing the bright white rump patch.

This is a western male Flicker that I photographed in Alberta Canada. The western males are distinguished by a red moustache instead of the black eastern moustache.

This western Northern Flicker has a bit of a red patch on his nape which is not the norm for the westerners so it likely represents some cross-breeding. Maybe grandpa was from back east.

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