MORE WOODPECKER INFORMATION:
The Northern Flicker, or Common Flicker, is a member of the woodpecker family. It is a large bird, about 12 inches long, with black bars on its brown back, a black bib, and a red or black whisker stripe on the side of its face (male only). Eastern birds wear a red patch on the back of the neck and have yellow wing linings, while the western variety have salmon wing linings and no red patch. In the Southwest the gilded flicker has bright yellow underwings.
The flicker lives in open country with trees, farmlands, orchards, woodland edges, or in parks and suburban areas. It also likes areas near rivers and streams, as well as deserts with giant saguaro cacti. Its call is a loud, repeated flicker, flicker, flicker.
It is the only woodpecker that generally feeds on the ground, searching for insects such as ants (about half their diet) and beetles. They will also feed on tree trunks. In the winter they may come to a feeder for suet and peanut butter, and they will eat wild fruits and berries as well.
Woodpeckers excavate their own cavities, and some will use a nesting box, while others will not. The North American woodpeckers who use nest boxes fairly often include the Northern Flicker and the Red-headed Woodpecker. Woodpeckers do not bring in nesting material to the birdhouse, since they generally excavate holes in rotted wood, where the soft wood makes good nesting material naturally. So placing wood chips or sawdust (from 1 inch or 2 inches deep to filling it completely full) in the nest box may help to attract them. Wood chips are superior, as sawdust can absorb moisture.
The flicker will migrate from northern areas to the southern states for winter, but if the climate is not extreme, it may use a nest box as a roosting place during the winter months.
In an area where starlings are plentiful, you may want to set up several houses so they can have their own and leave the flickers alone, as they are an aggressive competitor for nesting sites.
One of the best things you can do for any bird, but especially for woodpeckers, is to NOT cut down the old dead trees or dead branches in your yard. These provide insects and homes for many woodpeckers, and after they have moved on to a new nest site, for every other cavity-nesting species. Woodpeckers do not excavate live wood, so leave that old eyesore in your yard and help give the birds a home!
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