Flickers appear brownish overall with a white rump patch that’s conspicuous in flight and often visible when perched. The undersides of the wing and tail feathers are bright yellow, for eastern birds, or red, in western birds.
With its wide range, from Alaska to Nicaragua, the flicker can be found in almost any habitat with trees. Tends to avoid dense unbroken forest, requiring some open ground for foraging. May be in very open country with few trees.
In Native American traditions, flickers are lucky birds associated with healing, medicine, and visitors. Additionally, the flicker’s plumage associates these birds with the sun. The Lenape tradition associates flickers with symbiosis, balance, and nurturing.
Northern Flickers in western North America have red under the tail and wings, where Gilded Flickers are yellow. Northern Flickers also have less brown on the head than Gilded Flickers.
Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are mostly black and white with boldly patterned faces. Both sexes have red foreheads, and males also have red throats. Look for a long white stripe along the folded wing. Bold black-and-white stripes curve from the face toward a black chest shield and white or yellowish underparts.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers have a black-and-white barred back and red nape whereas Northern Flickers have a black-and-brown barred back and a gray nape.
Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage.
Flickers peck their way through siding and pull out insulation in order to build a nest. Weathered and water-damaged wood siding and stucco are perfect materials, as they are easier for them to peck into.
The Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers are also slightly larger with a longer bill, a bigger red crown on its head, as well as red on the throat that the downy lacks. The yellow-bellied sapsucker also has a pale yellow breast which sets it apart from the Downy. Range: Eastern North America.
Populations are not seriously endangered by human activity, although human activity sometimes destroys their habitat. Few conservation measures are being taken because Northern Flickers are not recognized as endangered. As a migratory North American bird they are protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Act.
Northern Flickers are widespread and common, but numbers have decreased by an estimated 1.2% per year between 1966 and 2019 for a cumulative decline of 47%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.
All northern flickers are pale buffy white to rich buff below with black spotting and have brown to gray-brown backs with black barring. Adult: sexes are similar, but males have a malar mark (red in the “red-shafted,” black in the “yellow-shafted”) that is lacking in females.
“Entice flickers with peanut hearts or sunflower seeds on a platform, the ground or a large hopper feeder,” says Emma. “They like foraging on the ground, which is why ground feeders are the most ideal.
Native American Flicker Symbolic Meanings
Native Tribes in North American say Grandfather Sun streaked Flicker’s head red, bringing good luck. Finding the red feather of the Flicker indicates a positive change in fate, especially in the areas of friendship or your overall happiness.
Northern flickers help to control the populations of their prey species, especially ants. Their abandoned nests also create habitat for other cavity nesters such as birds and squirrels.
The gilded flicker (Colaptes chrysoides) is a large-sized woodpecker (mean length of 29 cm (11 in)) of the Sonoran, Yuma, and eastern Colorado Desert regions of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, including all of Baja California, except the extreme northwestern region.
Typically, neither sex has a colored nape crescent (but see below). The flight feathers of Yellow-shafted Flickers have yellow shafts, and their wings and tail are yellow below. The heads of Yellow-shafted Flickers are gray above, and their faces and throats are brown. Males have black moustaches; females have none.
Flickers are members of the woodpecker family. They are named for the brilliant yellow or red undersides of their wings and tails that cause the birds to resemble flickering flames when they fly.
Sapsuckers and woodpeckers are two types of birds that hammer holes in tree trunks, but they do it for different purposes. Sapsuckers target live trees and eat the sap that runs out of the holes they make; woodpeckers usually hammer on dead or decaying trees in search of wood-boring insects and to mark their territory.
Downy Woodpeckers are smaller than Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. They have a white stripe down the middle of the back, whereas Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers have a white wing patch.
Sapsuckers, as the name implies, prefer to feast on tree sap and the insects that are attracted to tree sap. These birds are known to voraciously attack trees, causing serious damage and sometimes death to the tree. They are migratory birds and can wreak havoc on entire groves of trees throughout the United States.
The Nuthatch is a small passerine bird with 28 species that looks like a small woodpecker but are not woodpeckers. These birds can grip tree bark and can walk up and down around tree trunks, and also hang upside down on the undersides of tree limbs while foraging for insects and seeds.
Flickers do live like other woodpeckers which is in the cavity of a tree. These holes, or cavities, may be naturally occurring, excavated by the birds or a combination of both. The wood has to be firm on the outside for weather protection yet soft on the inside to be formed for an interior nest chamber.
Their noise is distinctive, but they may be ruining your trees’ health outside or even drilling on your house. Wind chimes will not work to keep woodpeckers away. This is because woodpeckers often peck near the high points of trees, where it won’t be easy to install wind chimes.