A delight to see in flight, the Northern Flicker is unmistakable with its wonderful colouring under their wings, matched with its relatively large body. Although this bird is considered a woodpecker and has the ability to scale the trunks of trees, this bird is most comfortable foraging for food on the ground.

Where to Find the Northern Flicker

The northern flicker is a year-round resident to much of the continental United States, southern regions of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, and the Canadian Maritimes. Topical regions include Cuba, parts of Mexico and a few countries in Central America. This species is one of the few woodpeckers located in North America that is migratory. During the summer months, northern flickers can be found throughout Canada, as far north as the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Alaska before they migrate to warmer temperatures during the winter.

 

Identification

These large woodpeckers are predominantly brown in colouring and feature a black spotted plumage. Key identifiers are the black patch on the throat of this bird and their trademark red marking on their necks.

Perhaps one of the most unique features of this ground-feeding bird is the colouring found beneath their wings. While in flight this bird is almost unmistakable due to their colouring, which confused researchers early on. In the east, these birds feature yellow plumage on the bottom side of their wings, while in the west, the colouring is red. The two varieties were considered separate species until it was concluded their colouring was different depending on their geographical location.

Vocals

Not considered a quiet bird, their tone can be heard from quite a distance away. Their call lasts about eight seconds and is very similar to the call of the pileated woodpecker, featuring a loud tone that rises and falls in volume.

Much like other woodpeckers, these birds are also notorious for drumming. Both the males and females of the species with make loud and evenly spaced drums using tree trunks and other amplified objects.