The northern flicker, scientific name Colaptes auratus or common flicker is a medium-sized bird of the woodpecker family. It is native to most of North America, elements of Central America, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands, and is among the few woodpecker species that migrate. In this article, I am going to talk about Northern Flicker call, images, sound, feathers, range, diet, in flight, etc.
Northern Flicker profile
Over 100 widespread names for the northern flicker are recognized, together with yellowhammer (to not be confused with the Eurasian yellowhammer), clape, gaffer woodpecker, harry-wicket, heigh-ho, wake-up, walk-up, wick-up, yarrup, and gawker bird. Many of those names derived from makes an attempt to mimic a few of its calls.
This brown woodpecker flashes vivid colors underneath the wings and tail when it flies. Its ringing calls and quick bursts of drumming might be heard in spring nearly all through North America.
Two very different-looking kinds — Yellow-shafted Flicker within the east and north, and Red-shafted Flicker within the west — have been as soon as thought of separate species.
They interbreed wherever their ranges are available in contact. On the western Great Plains, there’s a broad zone the place all of the sparkles are intergrades between Red-shafted and Yellow-shafted.
Northern Flicker Description
Adults are brown with black bars on the back and wings. A mid-to-large-sized northern flicker measures 28–36 cm (11–14 in) in size and 42–54 cm (17–21 in) in wingspan. The body mass can range from 86 to 167 g (3.0 to 5.9 oz).
Among commonplace scientific measurements, the wing bone measures 12.2–17.1 cm (4.8–6.7 in), the tail measures 7.5–11.5 cm (3.0–4.5 in), the bill measures 2.2–4.3 cm (0.87–1.69 in), and the tarsus measures 2.2–3.1 cm (0.87–1.22 in).
The largest-bodied specimens are from the northern stretches of the species range, on the latitude of Alaska and Labrador, whereas the smallest specimens come from Grand Cayman Island.
A necklace-like black patch occupies the higher breast, whereas the lower breast and stomach are beige with black spots.
Males might be recognized by a black or red moustachial stripe on the base of the beak.
The tail is darkish on top, transitioning to a white rump which is conspicuous in flight. Subspecific plumage is variable.
Call and flight
This bird’s name is a sustained chuckle, ki ki ki ki, fairly completely different from that of the pileated woodpecker. One might also hear a continuing knocking as they typically drum on timber and even metal objects to declare territory.
Like most woodpeckers, northern sparkles drum on objects as a type of communication and territory protection. In such instances, the thing is to make as loud a noise as attainable, so woodpeckers generally drum on metal objects.
Like many woodpeckers, its flight is undulating. The repeated cycle of a fast succession of flaps adopted by a pause creates an impact corresponding to a curler coaster.
Northern Flicker Communication and Perception
Aggressive shows equivalent to “bill directing” or “bill poking” are utilized by sparkles. That is, a flicker might level his bill at a rival together with his head tilted ahead, or truly peck at an opponent.
A more aggressive display is “head swinging,” whereby a flicker will use side-to-side actions of his head and body towards an opponent. There can also be a “head bobbing” display which may be used. Sometimes tail spreading accompanies head swinging or bobbing shows.
Flickers sing throughout the flight. Their music is a loud “wick wick wick wick wick,” whereas particular person notes sound like a loud “klee-yer” and a squeaky “flick-a flick-a flick-a.”
Flickers seem brownish total with a white rump patch that’s conspicuous in flight and sometimes seen when perched. The undersides of the wing and tail feathers are vivid yellow, for eastern birds, or red, in western birds.
With a better look, you’ll see the brown plumage is richly patterned with black spots, bars, and crescents.
Northern Flicker Behavior
Northern Flickers spend lots of time on the ground, and when in timber they’re typically perched upright on horizontal branches as a substitute for leaning towards their tails on a trunk. They fly in an up-and-down path utilizing heavy flaps interspersed with glides, like many woodpeckers.
Male sparkles acknowledge females by sight. To defend their mate or territory, birds of the same intercourse change into aggressive towards one another. Aggressive shows equivalent to “bill directing” or “bill poking” are utilized by sparkles.
That is, a flicker might level his bill at a rival together with his head inclined ahead, or truly peck at an opponent. A more aggressive display is “head swinging,” whereby a flicker will use side-to-side actions of his head and body towards an opponent.
There can also be a “head bobbing” display which may be used. Sometimes tail spreading accompanies head swinging or bobbing shows.
Young sparkles will molt to grownup plumage from June to October (Palmer and Fowler 1975). After the nestling interval of 25 to 28 days, the younger stay with the mother and father for a while, calling to the mother and father to be fed.
Flickers have a deeply undulating flight. Their music is a loud “wick wick wick wick wick,” whereas particular person notes sound like a loud “klee-yer” and a squeaky “flick-a flick-a flick-a”.
Northern Flicker Diet
According to the Audubon area information, “flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground”, probing with their beak, additionally generally catching bugs in flight.
Although they eat fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts, their main meals are bugs. Ants alone could make up 45% of their food plan. Other invertebrates ate include flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, and snails.
Flickers additionally eat berries and seeds, particularly in winter, together with poison oak and poison ivy, dogwood, sumac, wild cherry, grape, bayberries, hackberries, and elderberries, in addition to sunflower and thistle seeds.
Flickers typically break into underground ant colonies to get on the nutritious larvae there, hammering on the soil the way in which different woodpeckers drill into wooden. They have been noticed breaking apart cow dung to eat bugs dwelling inside.
Their tongues can dart out 50 mm (2.0 in) past the top of the bill to catch prey. The flicker is a natural predator of the European corn borer, a moth that prices the US agriculture business more than $1 billion yearly in crop losses and inhabitants control.
Northern Flicker Habitat
Flickers could also be noticed in open habitats close to timber, together with woodlands, edges, yards, and parks. In the western United States, one can discover them in mountain forests all the way in which as much as the tree line.
Northern sparkles usually nest in holes in timber like different woodpeckers. Occasionally, they’ve been discovered nesting in old, earthen burrows vacated by belted kingfishers or financial institution swallows.
Both sexes assist with nest excavation. The entrance gap is about 7.6 cm (3.Zero in) in diameter, and the cavity is 33–41 cm (13–16 in) deep. The cavity widens at the backside to make room for eggs and the incubating grownup.
Inside, the cavity is naked apart from a bed of wooden chips for the eggs and chicks to relaxation on. Once nestlings are about 17 days old, they start clinging to the cavity wall relatively than mendacity on the ground.
Northern Flicker Lifespan
A examine from 2006 examined the mortality charges of female and male northern sparkles over a six-year interval utilizing capture-tag-recapture methods.
The researchers noticed just one to 2 birds out of each 300 adults have been seven or more years old. This remark information correlated nicely with a mortality model that predicted a 0.6% seven-year survival fee.
The information additionally illustrated that there have been no vital variations between female and male survival charges for the final inhabitants.
The oldest but recognized “yellow-shafted” northern flicker lived to be a minimum of 9 years 2 months old, and the oldest but recognized “red-shafted” northern flicker lived to be a minimum of Eight years 9 months old.
Northern Flicker Reproduction
Their breeding habitat consists of forested areas throughout North America and as far south as Central America. They are cavity nesters that usually nest in timber, however in addition they use posts and birdhouses if sized and located appropriately.
They want to excavate their very own house, though they reuse and restore broken or deserted nests. Abandoned flicker nests create a habitat for different cavity nesters.
Flickers are generally pushed from nesting websites by one other cavity nester, the European starling.
About 1 to 2 weeks are wanted for a mated pair to construct the nest. The entrance gap is roughly 5 to 10 cm (2.Zero to three.9 in) extensive.
A typical clutch consists of six to eight eggs whose shells are pure white with a clean floor and excessive-gloss.
The eggs are the second-largest of the North American woodpecker species, exceeded solely by the pileated woodpecker’s.
Incubation is by each sex for about 11 to 12 days. The younger are fed by regurgitation and fledge about 25 to 28 days after hatching.
Northern Flicker Eggs
5-8, generally 3-12. White. Incubation is by each sex (with males incubating at night and a part of the day), 11-16 days. Young: Both mother and father feed younger, by regurgitation.
Young depart nest about Four weeks after hatching, are fed by mother and father at first, later following them to good foraging sites. 1 brood per year, or 2 in the south.
Both mother and father feed younger, by regurgitation. Young depart nest about Four weeks after hatching, are fed by mother and father at first, later following them to good foraging websites. 1 brood per year, or 2 in the south.
Northern Flicker Nesting
Males defend nesting territory with calling, drumming, and plenty of aggressive shows, together with swinging head back and forth, flicking wings open, and spreading tail to point out off vivid underside.
Courtship shows largely comparable. Nest website is a cavity in a tree or post, not often in a burrow within the floor. Tree cavities normally in lifeless wooden; pine, cottonwood, and willow are amongst favored timber.
Cavity excavated by each sex, sometimes 6-20′ above ground, generally a lot increased (to 100′ or more).
Northern sparkles don’t reply strongly to predators. They might make tentative flights across the predator or make bill-poking actions in direction of the predator.
Young within the nest are weak to nest predators equivalent to raccoons, squirrels, and snakes. Once they attain maturity, northern sparkles are preyed upon by a number of birds of prey that specialize in searching birds.
In eastern North America, this consists of Cooper’s hawks and sharp-shinned hawks.
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Northern Flickers assist to control the populations of their invertebrate prey, particularly ant populations. They additionally create nests that are later utilized by different cavity-nesting species of birds and by squirrels.
Wintering and migration
Northern birds migrate to the southern elements of the range; southern birds are sometimes everlasting residents. Learn more about the back legged kittiwake.