Northern Flicker

Most people expect to see woodpeckers banging away at trees. But the Northern Flicker is likely to be spotted on the ground as they dig for their main diet of ants and beetles.

Northern Flicker, photo by Hayley Crews

Size & Shape: 12″. Fairly large woodpeckers with a slim, rounded head, long bill and stiff tail that tapers to a point.

Color: Robust, colorful, with black crescent bib, white rump. Barred brown above, spotted buff below, with brightly colored feather shafts. Brown cap, gray face, red shafts, male with red mustache mark.

Behavior: Forages on ground for ants, in trees for fruits, occasionally seeds where available. Loud calling, drumming, boisterous interactions, ability to thrive in urban areas make it noticeable. Excavates cavity nest in live or dead wood. Flocks in migration.

Habitat: Open woodlands, any semi-open area, urban woodlots, lawns.

Field Marks: Gray face with brown around eye, red mustache, brown back with horizontal black bars, red shafts to flight feathers.

Songs and Calls: Listen here.

Fun Facts: Unlike other woodpeckers, flickers are mostly brown, instead of black and mainly look for food on the ground, though they will occasionally forage (search for food) on tree trunks and limbs.

Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus