Northern Flicker

A tall Doug fir on the bluff is a favorite with birds. We call it the low-down tree because only the top of it rises above the bluff. The first Thanksgiving we spent here, I spotted an unknown bird and grabbed binoculars, I watched wind fluff its feathers – black chest blaze like a bib, black polka dots on white, red cheek patch, and rusty orange highlights: northern flicker – a red-shafted male.

The flicker was the first bird I identified from the book “Birds of the Puget Sound Region” – such a pleasure to put a name to that beauty. Flickers (woodpeckers) consort with robins, often joining them for flocking events. Robins seem not so impressed by stylish good looks as I am. Robins can shoulder the larger flicker from the birdbath.

Ants can be nearly half a flicker’s diet. They feed often on the ground like robins, but are the only woodpecker to do so.

One thought on “Northern Flicker

  1. Katy – I remember when, after moving here from Alaska, I spotted my first Red-Winged Black Bird and inquired “What kind of bird is that black one with the red wings?” I was handed the very same book you mentioned. (It was accompanied by a stare from a slow shaking head.)

    I guess that’s not nearly as bad as the time I saw new growth on a Doug Fir and marveled aloud how the owner was able to find a “Variegated Fir”. Oddly enough, I got the same stare and slow shaking head…hmmm…I get that a lot…

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