A pair of male Flickers

Flickers are among the most beautiful birds that visit my garden.  In SE Michigan, we have the Northern Yellow-Shafted Flicker–the feathers under the wings and tail are a beautiful bright yellow.  In the western part of the US, the flickers are red-shafted.  In a large swath down the middle of the US, the Flickers can be orange-shafted–the result of a Yellow-Shafted Flicker mating with a Red-Shafted Flicker.

I started seeing Flickers last winter.  Occasionally, I see them in the summer out in the woods.  They are an interesting woodpecker because they actually forage on the ground for ants and beetles.  But last winter they started coming to my suet feeder in the winter.


This winter, I’ve had a pair of Flickers almost every day.  I was hoping they were a breeding pair, but then I learned that the males have a black moustache that the females don’t have.  I have never seen a female in my garden–just 2 males.  Most of the time they get along fine, even staying close to each other.  Only one day did they seem to be aggressive towards each other.


I do have a heated birdbath in my garden, but I’ve never seen the flickers on it.  I have noticed several times though that they seem to be catching snowflakes on their tongues!  Do you think they do this to get water in the winter?  Seems like the birdbath would be easier, but who knows?


What a delight it has been to have these unique and beautiful woodpeckers around all winter!


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5 Responses to Flickers

  1. Crooked Tracks says:

    Wow, your photos are wonderful, if you have two males, they might be young brothers, too young for mates this year?

    • Thank you! Yes, that’s a possibility. I was sure they were a mating pair until I learned how to tell the males and females apart! I hope they decide to stick around when they do find mates.

  2. John Blair says:

    Carol, I just love your outstanding photos of Flickers! I especially love the one of the two on the tree together – one with wings partially open showing plumage. They too, are my favorite bird that I see in my yard. Also, thank you for the information on which regions the Yellow-shafted vs Red-shafted are found. This was something I had wondered about but never looked into.

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