Northern Flicker



Recorded a female Red-shafted Flicker on September 22, 2000 in Greenwood, Texas

FIELD IDENTIFICATION: The Northern Flicker is a winter resident of Wise County.  There are two subspecies, both of which are present here.  The "Red-shafted" Flicker is named for its red feather vanes, which give the bird a reddish tint to the wings and tail in flight.  The other subspecies, the "Yellow-shafted" Flicker has yellow vanes.  Differentiation of subspecies will be discussed below.  Both flickers are light tan with black dots on the underside, and brown and black barred above.  A black crescent is on the breast.  The white rump is conspicuous in flight.

Subspecies identification: Male "Yellow-shafted" Flicker has a black mustache, and a red patch on the nape.  The head is light brown, with a gray crown and nape.  Male "Red-shafted" Flicker has a gray head with brown crown.  The mustache is red, and there is no red on nape.  Female flickers of both types have no mustache.  As in the males, "Yellow-shafted" females have a red patch on the nape, and "Red-shafted" females do not.

Flickers commonly feed on the ground, foraging for one of their favorite foods: ants.  However, flickers will spend time in trees, like other woodpeckers.

Field I.D. by Claire Curry

Photos by Mary Curry on September 30, 2001 on Unit 55 on the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grasslands in Wise County, Texas

Field sketch by Claire Curry in 2000