News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds - 3/10/21

Northern flickers (Colaptes auratus) are large, black-spotted woodpeckers that feed mainly on ants and beetles. They are often seen on lawns and sidewalks gleaning insects and may be seen in loose groups of five to 10 in late summer and fall.

The northern flicker occurs in either red-shafted- west of the Rocky Mountains, or yellow-shafted in the eastern U.S., and will hybridize to yield various shaft color and head pattern combinations.

Gaffer, hairy-wicket, heigh-ho, gawker, and yellowhammer are just a few of the flickers’ nicknames. In 1927 the “yellowhammer” became the state bird of Alabama.

Nesting in tree cavities the northern flicker lays five to eight white eggs that incubate for 11 to 13 days and fledge in 24 to 27 days. Unlike other woodpeckers, they will often use the same nest in consecutive years. Some northern flickers stay in our region year round; however most migrate to warmer southern areas including Mexico and Cuba.

A gathering of flickers is referred to as a “guttering” or “menorah.”

For more northern flicker photos, visit


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