I posted last week about seeing a family of pileated woodpeckers looking for insects in my backyard. Also last week, I had a chance encounter with another one of my favorite woodpecker species: the northern flicker.
I was drawn to the backyard as I heard a flicker noisily issuing its alarm call over and over. It turns out, a cat was walking through the yard and several birds were scolding the feline. The flicker, however, was by far the loudest and most agitated. There were most likely young flickers around but I didn’t see them.
Flickers are handsome birds with an interesting assortment of colors and decorations. Note the bib under the neck and spots on the chest and belly. The bird shown in the photographs is a female. Males have a black “mustache.”
The northern flicker is made up of two subspecies: yellow-shafted flicker and red-shafted flicker, which were once considered two separate species. Here in New England, we have the yellow-shafted variety. The name comes from the yellow feathers on the underside of the tail and wings.