Red-shafted Northern Flicker Woodpecker
Red-shafted Northern Flicker - The woodpecker that prefers to peck the ground
Last March, I was staring out of our sunroom window and spotted a curious looking bird staring back at me. It was feverishly digging our lawn with its beak like a mini-lawn aerator. It hesitated, and gave me the look. I rushed to my laptop and googled for the keywords "polka-dotted, red moustache, black bib bird with red V." Lo and behold, the Red-shafted Northern Flicker was found. The Red-shafted Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus cafer) gets its name from the red shafts on its primary flight feathers and makes its home in the western North America.
The Red-shafted Flicker lives in western North America while the Yellow-shafted Flicker lives in eastern North America.
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Mustachioed gentleman - Wearing a hot number
This adult male Red-shafted Northern Flicker looks like it is wearing the latest fashion design from Project Runway. The male has a red mustache, a bluish grey face, a black bib on the upper breast, a beige cap and a polka-dotted lower chest feathers. It has a laddered pattern of black and beige bars on its feathers at the back. There was a female Northern Flicker, without the mustache, of course, digging alongside this fellow. Unfortunately, the two photos I snapped of his lady love was out-of-focus.
Aardvark with wings - Northern Flickers love ants for their diet
The Red-shafted Northern Flicker spends a lot of time on the ground pecking and digging for ants and beetles or pulling up worms. Their sticky tongue can dart out 2 inches beyond their curved bill to snare insects.The Red-shafted Northern Flickers are often perched upright on horizontal branches and have an undulating up-and-down flight pattern interspersed with glides. This I observed after this bird had enough of the photo shoot and flew across the street to a stand of weeping birch trees.
Black scalloped plumage - Nature has been generous with this bird
The Red-shafted flicker has a flared tail that tapers at the end. The laddered back of black bars and crescents are a geometric contrast to the polka-dotted chest. A red letter V mark can be seen on its nape.
Half of a red letter V behind its neck - V is for Victory or longe-Vee-ity
Half of the red letter V mark on the nape of the Red-shafted Northern Flicker is apparent. This is color-coordinated with its red malar (mustache). Northern Flickers generally nest in holes in trees like other woodpeckers. A typical clutch consists of 6 to 8 white, glossy eggs.
The oldest known Red-shafted Northern Flicker lived 8 years and 9 months. That's victory for a long life.
See Red-shafted Northern Flicker in flight
Listen to the Northern Flicker drumming for a mate - and the familiar high pitched kikkikikkikiki
Red-shafted Northern Flickers dancing on western red cedar tree
Interesting links on the Northern Flickers
- Northern (Red-Shafted) Flicker
Flickers belong to the woodpecker family, Picidae. The scientific name for the red-shafted flicker is Coloptes auratus cafer. In flight, note the conspicuous white rump. This and the barred brown back mark the bird as a Flicker.
- All about Norther Flickers
Learn how to identify Northern Flicker, its life history, cool facts, sounds and calls, and watch videos. Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage. On walks, don't be surprised if yo
- Northern Flickers, Northern Flicker Pictures, Northern Flicker Facts - National Geographic
Learn all you wanted to know about northern flickers with facts, pictures, videos, and news from National Geographic.
- Northern Flicker
Identification and Pictures Northern Flickers can be attracted to your backyard with suet feeders, water, and a few trees and shrubs. The Downy is the most common woodpecker to visit back yards, flickers run a close second.
- Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
Photos, videos and information on Northern Flicker (Red-shafted).
- Northern Flickers and family members
Northern Flicker habitat, behavior, diet, migration patterns, conservation status, and nesting.
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