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Red-shafted Northern Flicker Woodpecker

Updated on January 31, 2015

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

Great zoom camera that makes it look like you were up close - Will bring out the photographer in you

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 24x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD - Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 14.1 MP Digital Camera with 24x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD - Black (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

The Lumix FZ40 is a wonderful step-up from the point-and-shoot that I owned for years. The 24X zoom and auto intellgent mode make taking pictures of wildlife, birds, and the outdoor landscape so much more fun. The image quality is clear and vibrant, easy to use, lightweight, and most of all, the zoom capability is superb. Birds look like they were snapped upclose were really 15 feet or more away. It is packed with so many features comparable to more expensive cameras, yet the price is right.


Thank you for visiting - Don't you think the Red-shafted Northern Flicker is adorable?

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    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      Really fun lens. Thanks for Sharing. SquidAngel blessing! ;-)

    • jlshernandez profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @GonnaFly: I used a 24x zoom Lumix FZ40 camera to get up close and personal with the bird. I only have the camera for 10 months and enjoying every minute of it.

    • GonnaFly profile image


      6 years ago from Australia

      What a cutie! Looks like you could get quite close with your camera :-)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Very cute unless he is pecking on the side of my house :)


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