Northern Flickers

Northern Flicker on our suet cage

This is a red shafted northern flicker doing a normal activity, looking for a good snack!

Article written by Gabi W. (Age 9)

Have you ever wondered about Northern Flickers? To me, they are like dashes of orange and white in the bright blue sky and colors hopping around the undergrowth. These beautiful birds are my personal favorite because I love the way that they knock on chimneys and swoop in the sky. Here are some facts about them and some of my personal experiences. 

Flicker Food

Unlike many other woodpeckers, flickers prefer to hop on the ground foraging for beetles and ants.  They also like bird suet. If you want to attract flickers, I would recommend having trees in your backyard so that they can perch and maybe find a tasty ant snack. Flickers are really shy, so I would recommend leaving them alone to eat and keep all animals inside if you want them to stay.

Funny Flicker Behaviors

Northern Flicker
Silly northern flicker drumming on our chimney.

Flickers like to drum on our metal chimneys to mark their territory. It is so loud! They also make a loud call. You can hear it on this website:

Flicker Time Of Day 

Flickers come more during the morning and afternoon. Flickers don’t come around at night as often because they are in their little nest trying to sleep and keep away from predators. 

Flicker Colors

Flickers come in many different colors. The picture on the left side is a red shafted flicker. The one on the right side is a gold/yellow shafted. Look at the pictures, think about the ways they are the same. Now, think of the ways that they look different. The similarities I see are the shape of the beak, the spot on their chest, and the spots and stripes all over their body. The differences I see are the tail feathers, the tint on their body, the mustache, and the color of their heads. 

Red shafted northern flicker
Red shafted northern flicker – the underside of his tail are a deep red-orange. I will replace with a tail photo when the opportunity arises.
Photo Credit: Mary Cecil – Thank you Mary!
Yellow shafted northern flicker – the underside of the tail is a bright yellow. He also has yellow near the beak.

My Experiences with Flickers

These experiences are very funny and very weird. The first one was when my parents were on a run and I saw a beautiful bird on the suet. At the time, I didn’t know anything about flickers. When my mom and dad came home I asked them what the bird was since I managed to get a picture with my iPad. They said it was a northern flicker and that is where it began.

Another experience was the feud between scrub jays and flickers. I was watching the scrub jays make their nest in the arborvitae in my backyard when the flickers came. The scrub jays were hostile and chased the flickers out. Then when it got worse the scrub jays even drummed on our chimney as a marking of territory. That was the flickers way of marking!

Written by my sweet daughter, Gabi W. Age 9.

Gently edited by Amy Wachsmuth

Sources and Further Reading:

Birds of Oregon Field Guide, by Stan Tekiela, Page 135

Portland Audubon:

Flicker Calls:

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