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Our Common Flicker

Photograph © Matt Miles. (Greeting cards may be ordered from Matt Miles Photography, P.O.Box 73, Rogersvile, MO 65742.)

The "Common" Flicker is a large (11 inches) beautiful woodpecker, often seen on the ground searching for ants and other insects. This particular fellow is the "Yellow-shafted", referring to the yellow underside of its wings and tail. They are found throughout North America, along with a smaller Red-shafted, in the West and Great Plains. Besides fruits and berries, beatles, termites and other insects, the Flicker has a thing for ants and is said to eat more of them than any other bird. It's also been known to come to feeders and is big enough to occasionally catch young bats.

Female Flicker feeding young in the nest
Flickers avoid deep forests but can be found almost anywhere with trees. They nest in tree cavities where both male and female will incubate eggs (approximately 5 to 8, or more!) and feed the young. Starlings are their nemesis, as they will force them out of nesting cavities by ganging up on them and attacking from a group, one by one.

These handsome birds are a welcome addition to any neighborhood and a sign of pretty good habitat. You may be able to distinguish their courtship call, "woikawoikawoika," with much head bobbing.

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