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.

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