Northern Flickers can be seen in Alberta with many even staying all winter to feed on fruit and seeds at backyard feeders. MRWC sees several each year in the hospital, often hit by vehicles due to their habit of feeding in ditches.
Flickers are a type of woodpecker that feed mainly on insects on the ground. Ants are a particular favorite. They are a larger, brown bird with a spotted belly and a black bib. They can be found in two varieties - red or yellow shafted, meaning the undersides of the wings will be yellow or red. In both varieties the male will have a "mustache" but it will be black in the yellow shafted and red in the red shafted. A flash of the large white rump as they fly off is a good field mark to identify the bird.
Flickers are cavity nesters and both male and female work together to excavate holes in dead trees and raise the young. The nests do not have any bedding as once the young are over 2 weeks old they simply cling to the side of the hole and wait for parents to put their heads in to feed. Average clutch is 5-8 eggs.
The population of Flickers is considered in steep decline and has decreased by over 49% since 1966. They are most vulnerable to free roaming cats, pesticides, and vehicles. You can help by eliminating these dangers and by putting up nest boxes if you have appropriate habitat with a mix of open fields and forest.