Northern Flicker

AKA Red-Shafted Flicker

Colaptes auratus

                    flicker tracks and hole used to hunt ants. Photo by
                    Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

Flicker tracks on lower right
Upper left is hole the flicker was probing for ants



Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker

Northern flicker. Photo by Kim A. Cabrera
Northern flicker in a tree.

The northern flicker is a type of woodpecker. It can grow to 12.5 inches long and have a wingspan of 20 inches.

Flickers prefer to eat ants. They will open anthills to get at them. In the photo above, the flicker was probing a hole on a dirt road as I approached. This particular area is a popular place for the flickers. I see them frequently. There must be lots of ants or other insects in that particular stretch of road for them to eat.

The flicker has a very distinctive plumage. The back has dark bars and the front is spotted. In flight, the rump is white. The bird in the photo at left is a male. The female lacks the red patch on the cheek. The female has a gray face.

Tracks are not often found. They can measure 1 3/4 to almost 2 1/2 inches long and about half an inch wide.

Flickers will do damage to buildings, often pecking holes into wood siding. Where I live, this is a constant problem. One way to discourage them is to hang up bright reflective tape, which flutters in the wind and scares off the birds.


                    flicker primary feather. Note red shaft. Photo by
                    Kim A. Cabrera 2002.

Primary feather of a northern flicker. Note the red shaft, which gave this bird its old common name of red-shafted flicker.


Northern flicker track in mud. Copyright Kim A.
                    Cabrera 2005.

A nice northern flicker track in mud. This track was in a drying mud puddle on a dirt road. Flickers are commonly seen in my area on dirt roads, where ants are frequently found. I've even found openings to ant nests in the middle of some dirt roads. Flickers love to eat ants.
Northern flicker track in mud. Photo copyright
                  Kim A. Cabrera 2005.

Northern flicker track in mud. Flickers often eat ants they find along dirt roads in this area.

                  flicker on a tree. Photo copyright by Kim A. Cabrera

A northern flicker searches for insects on a tree trunk. Northern flickers are also called red shafted flickers.

Northern red shafter flicker. Photo copyright Kim
                  A. Cabrera 2008.

The northern flicker used to be called the red shafted flicker. If you look closely at the orangish-red shaft of the wing feather here, you will see why. Red-shafted is a very descriptive name for this species.

                  flicker or red shafted flicker. Photo copyright by Kim
                  A. Cabrera 2008.

Notice the toes and claws that help the flicker cling to the bark of this tree. The stiff tail feathers also allow this woodpecker to stay upright on the side of the tree. The toes face both forward and backward, which gives the bird a good grip.

northern flicker feather
Secondary feather of a northern flicker

northern flicker feather
Northern Flicker feather

flicker probe hole
Northern flicker beak probe holes in dirt

flicker probe hole
Northern flicker beak probe holes in dirt

Find northern flicker posters, greeting cards, postage stamps and more in my new store.

Visit Beartracker's Nature Store at:   Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!


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Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Get Every Child Outdoors (Get E.C.O.) - My shop dedicated to nature and getting kids interested in nature and the outdoors.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!



If you wish to help keep this site online, donations are accepted through PayPal.
Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den is provided as a free service, but your
donations are sincerely appreciated to pay the monthly hosting fees.
If you do not wish to donate, we do have a store where you can purchase
custom tracking items.
Thank you and happy tracking!




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Copyright 1997, 2018. Text, drawings, and photos by Kim A. Cabrera


Page updated: March 25, 2018.

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