News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

Frequently seen in fall on lawns, roads, suet feeders, and trees, the Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) are large, black-spotted woodpeckers with a sparkling red slash [male] on their faces, that feed mainly on ants and beetles. They are gathering now in loose groups of 5-10 birds and can be identified by a white tail as they fly away. Raucous sounds are heard in the forest as flickers play while circling around the trunks of trees.

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 3-12 white eggs that incubate for 11-13 days and fledge in 24-27 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.

For more Northern Flicker photos visit http://abirdsingsbecauseithasa


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