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Nature Journal - A Pair of Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers Foraging In Our Woodland Garden

Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers watercolor
watercolor by Gloria M.

Did you know:

  • The sight of Yellow-shafted Northern Flickers is considered good luck, healing, and friendship. Hearing a call from Northern Flickers means you will have a visitor soon.

  • Although belonging to the woodpecker family, who generally feed on insects in the tree, Nothern Flickers are ground feeders. They love to eat ants which serve as their most important source of food. They also eat a variety of other insects in the ground and wild fruit and seeds, especially in winter.

  • The Northern Flicker has an extra-long tongue even among woodpeckers, so it can probe into anthills. To trap ants, Northern Flickers have large salivary glands that produce sticky saliva. Each time the bird extends its tongue, it gets a refill.

  • Northern flickers are also known for anting. They use the formic acid from the ants to assist in preening, as it helps them to get rid of parasites.

  • Northern flickers are monogamous; pairs mate for life and produce two broods per season.

  • Like most woodpeckers, Northern flickers drum on objects as a form of communication and territory defense.

Wildlife garden tips:

Northern flickers can be found in open habitats near trees, including woodlands, edges, yards, and parks. Although being protected, the population of flickers is decreasing. It is presumed to be due to pesticides used on lawns, the loss of habitats, predation by outdoor cats, and the competition for nest sites from other cavity-nesters. such as European Starlings.

  • Keep birdbaths with fresh water.

  • Do not use pesticides. Pesticides can either poison birds directly or reduce their food and habitat resources.

  • Plant insect-hosting flowers and bushes that produce berries as natural food resources.

  • Keep your cats indoors.

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