Northern Flicker ~ Colaptes auratus

Northern Flicker ~ Colaptes auratus

We've had Northern Flickers visiting our suet feeder for the first time this winter.

Scott at Through Hand Lens & Binoculars also noted seeing Flickers on his suet feeder this winter at his Indiana home.

Flickers primarily eat ants but also consume beetle larvae. You will most often see them in the spring and summer on the ground looking for these insects in lawns and open grassy areas.

Flicker populations (from Bird Survey data) indicate that populations are on the decline. One main theory is the competition with European Starlings for nest cavities. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology website)

The Cornell website also says that Flicker "species play a central 'keystone' role in the ecology of woodland communities where it excavates many of the cavities later used by other hole-nesting species".

These photos are of a male which has the black marking (malar) on its face. In Minnesota, we have the Yellow Shafted or Eastern Flicker. The feathers on the underside of the wings are a beautiful golden yellow color. Look for this when the Flickers are in flight. The Red Shafted or Western Flicker has reddish feathers on the underside of its wings.

Northern Flickers are one of the larger woodpeckers species in the area, slightly larger than the Red Bellied or Hairy Woodpeckers in size.

Have you seen more Northern Flickers in your landscape this winter?