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The Northern Flicker Bird: Creator of Homes for Other Animals

Updated on June 27, 2010
GarnetBird profile image

Gloria taught for many years, and also worked as a mental health group facilitator.

The Northern Flicker is a Handsome Bird!

Courtesy of animalnetwork.com.
Courtesy of animalnetwork.com.
Flickers flourish is many diverse climates. Photo courtesy of flickr.com.
Flickers flourish is many diverse climates. Photo courtesy of flickr.com.
This litter of baby squirrels is living in a "home" dredged out by a nearby Flicker. photo courtesy of Postersguide.com.
This litter of baby squirrels is living in a "home" dredged out by a nearby Flicker. photo courtesy of Postersguide.com.
Close up of wings.
Close up of wings.
Close up of back of head.
Close up of back of head.
Photo courtesy of audubon society.  Flicker peeking out from its hole.
Photo courtesy of audubon society. Flicker peeking out from its hole.
Clutch of typical Flicker eggs/photo courtesy Flickr.com.
Clutch of typical Flicker eggs/photo courtesy Flickr.com.

IIf while hiking, you disturb a ground-feeding woodpecker that vanishes in a flurry of auburn wings, you have met a Northern Flicker. Unlike other Woodpeckers, the Flicker primarily feeds on insects , using its powerful beak to stir up spiders, crickets, ants and more. So strong is their attraction to bugs, Flickers have even been observed picking insects out of cow manure flops.

In California, the Flicker is usually found in open woodland areas and mountains. There are two distinct types--the Yellow-shafted and the Red-shafted. Many times I have seen them, scaling up and down pine trees, emitting a lovely call: "Wick-up--Wick--up!" Sensitive and curious, they usually allow me to get close--but not close enough for a good photo. While in the nest, Flicker nestlings make a pleasant yammering vocalization that adds a touch of drama to the woods.

The Flicker is often called a Home-Maker. Using its powerful sharp beak, it carves out holes in all manner and variety of trees. These "homes" also become shelters for other animals--even squirrels--who lack the equipment to make their own excavations. In this way, Flickers are seen as essential to the balance of nature in the wildlife community. Flickers do not intend to make homes for other species, but that is the way Nature takes care of other animals without the tools to excavate holes.

Flicker eggs are smooth and white. Their nestlings are ready to fly after 27 days on the average. Off, they go, to build homes for themselves and other creatures who take-over after they vacate. There are over 100 common names for the Flicker, often referring to the sound it makes. My personal favorite is Wick-Up, as that is the way they sound to me.

The female Flicker lacks the dynamic red "mustache" that males have, but she is equally lovely in her spotted coat. Found throughout North American in a variety of habitats, this is a special bird to watch and enjoy.

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    • GarnetBird profile image
      Author

      Gloria Siess 6 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you so much!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 6 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Voted interesting and following you. This was a wonderful hub on a fantastic bird with a lot of personality. Will be reading more of your work.

    • GarnetBird profile image
      Author

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Your comments were lovely--there is something magical about Flickers--always exciting to see one! Thank you for reading--this Hub has been rather ignored, but that's the way it goes, I guess.

    • StephanieBCrosby profile image

      Stephanie Bradberry 7 years ago from New Jersey

      I loved this hub. Your opening line captures one's first encounter with a Flicker exactly. When my husband and I first saw one flying from our yard to a neighbors tree, we thought it was some kind of tropical bird. We said, "did we just see flashes of gold?" Each year at the same time, beginning of spring, we would see one feeding on the ants by our kitchen window. Happy to say three years later, we will often see three or more at one time eating in various parts of the yard. Very beautiful birds.

    • GarnetBird profile image
      Author

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Me, too--I have a crowd of Blue Jays I feed on my porch. I love woodpeckers also. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      toucanparakeet 7 years ago

      i love love love LOVE birds. any birds any size,color,and song.im only 10 but AM UBSESTED with birds

    • GarnetBird profile image
      Author

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you for reading--these birds are lovely to watch around here.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      I really enjoyed this Hub - thank you. We don't have flickers here and I would love to see one. They certainly are handsome!

      Love and peace

      Tony

    • GarnetBird profile image
      Author

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Thank you--Flickers are adorable birds.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      We have flickers here, though I haven't seen any in a while. Thumbs up and beautiful!

    • Putz Ballard profile image

      Putz Ballard 7 years ago

      Well now you were right , this is awesomw and Iloved the squirrels, yeah!!!

    • GarnetBird profile image
      Author

      Gloria Siess 7 years ago from Wrightwood, California

      Yes, they don't intend to build homes for other animals and birds, but that seems to be the way Nature takes care of weaker species. I found it kind of touching, and I adore Flicker anyway--I see them alot when I hike around Big Bear. Thanks for your comment!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      How very beautiful. And thanks for that photo of the baby squirrels - so many in NYC but we never see the babies - which I suppose is a good thing because they will be safe then.

      How interesting that this bird would build for others. And how interesting in nature - the males have to be extra beautiful to attract females. I like that.

      Great hub and photos. Rated up!

    • valeriebelew profile image

      valeriebelew 7 years ago from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA

      Interesting bird, GarnetBird, but where are the parents in the last hub. I hope they didn't leave their eggs unattended, or is that the parent bird underneath. I hope so. I love nature hubs. Keep em coming. (:v

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