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Northern  Flicker
(Yellow-shafted Flicker)

Order: Piciformes
Family: Picidae
Genus: Colaptes
Species: auratus

Gr. pikos woodpecker
La. picus woodpecker
Gr. Circe, mythological daughter of
      Helios, changed Picus, son of
      Saturn, into a woodpecker
La. forma form, shape, kind
Gr. kolaptes chiseller
Gr. kolapto chisel, pick away
La. auratus golden

Flicker, F. C. Hennessey


A large woodpecker, about twelve inches long. Gray head with red patch on the back of the head. Light brown undersides with black or dark brown spots. Black wavy bars on brownish gray wings, yellow bordered wing feathers and yellow under wings.

Lives in forests, groves, farms, and towns from parts of Alaska, throughout most of Canada and the States east of the Rocky Mountain's eastern slopes and below 55 degrees latitude south to Central America.


        USGS Flicker Map

Chips out several cavities or nests in an abandoned or natural cavity in decaying trees, cactuses, or fence posts from within reach to twenty or higher. Absent its usual choices it will use what is at hand.

Flicker nests have been discovered in an old wagon hub on the treeless prairie, in barrels, in the crevices of deserted barns and out houses.

Lays a varying number of white eggs which hatch after about two weeks incubation and young leave the nest in about another four weeks.

Odd for a woodpecker, the flicker is primarily a ground feeder. It eats ants and other insects, grubs, worms, berries and sour gum fruit.

Bird Nests in Tree Cavities, Flicker, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, The Book of Birds

 Louis Agassiz Fuertes

A noisy bird, it emits the familiar, quickly repeated, short quit-quit-quit- quit-quit-quit and an incredibly loud, high pitched Keee-yer! like an ungreased wheel. Another of its calls Audubon described as, "a prolonged jovial laugh"
The Flicker Birdhouse Plans (same as for Lewis Woodpecker, Saw-Whet Owl, Pigmy Owl and Grackle) has a 7" by 7" floor, 16" inside ceiling, 2 1/2" diameter entrance hole located 14" above the floor and ventilation openings. Hinged roof is secured with shutter hooks. Assembled with corrosion resistant screws.

Mount nest box on a tree trunk about eye level or just out of reach, higher if desired. 

Nestbox for Flicker, Lewis Woodpecker, Saw-whet Owl, Pigmy Owl & Grackle
Flicker Nestbox Plans

Installations out of reach should be installed and maintained by professionals: carpenters, electricians, power line workers, etc.  Because they commonly excavate their own cavities, fill this box with wood chips (no saw dust; chips!)

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