Northern Flickers

February 10, 2014 | Kelly Barany, Chin Ridge Seeds

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Northern Flickers are one of my favorite birds and I have a few of them frequenting my feeders at this time of year. Flickers are not as common as some of the other birds in your backyard, so I thought I would give you a bit of information on Northern Flickers and how to attract them.

Northern Flickers are part of the woodpecker family and spend most of their time on tree trunks or on the ground foraging for ants or other insects. However, they do seem to enjoy the sunflower seeds and peanuts in our Jay & Woodpecker mix and I quite enjoy seeing one of these large flickers plop down in my platform feeder. These easy going birds are big enough that when they arrive at the feeder, even the blue jays and magpies think twice about trying to scare them off.

There are two forms of these flickers: yellow-shafted and red-shafted and they can interbreed when ranges overlap. The Yellow-shafted Flicker resides in north and eastern North America. As the name suggests, the yellow-shafted flickers have yellow under the tail and wings. They also have a grey cap, a beige face and a red bar at the nape of their neck. Males have a black mustache.

The Red-shafted Flicker resides in western North America. Very similar to the Yellow-Shafted flicker but with red under the tail and wings.

These birds are migratory and I believe we have had both red and yellow shafted flickers in our yard over the winter at different times.

To attract these birds to your yard, I recommend offering Mother Nature's Jay & Woodpecker Mix in a tray feeder or platform feeder positioned near some trees in your yard.  I also recommend having several suet feeders positioned around your yard as they enjoy suet very much in the winter time.