About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Can you Help Identify this Backyard Bird in Michigan?

Can you help me out and tell me what kind of bird this is? It was taken at my girlfriends house in Jackson, Michigan.











What a treat!

The Northern Flicker is found almost everywhere in North America and year round in mid-Michigan. The eastern and Midwest United States have the Yellow-Shafted Flicker and the west has the Red-Shafted Flicker. The Gilded Flicker of the southwest is very similar to the Red-Shafted Flicker.

The northern populations of the Northern Flicker are migratory, with fall migration taking place September to November. So if this Flicker is new to the area it may see your yard as a good place to winter from its summer home in Canada.

Flickers measure 13" with a wingspan of 18"-21" and they are seen in most suburban environments and forest edges.

Unlike most other woodpeckers, Northern Flickers are mainly ground feeders, eating ants, termites, caterpillars, crickets, grasshoppers, other insects, spiders, berries, seeds, and nuts. They do come to feeders for seeds and suet.

The yellow shafts of the feathers and its habit of flicking its bill give the Yellow-shafted Flicker its name. Both males and female yellow-shafted have a gray crown with a prominent red chevron on the back of the head and a large black spot marks the breast. Only the male Flicker has a black mustache so the photos you sent (above) show a female.

Unfortunately the Flicker populations appear to be declining. Some contributing factors might be due to the loss of nesting sites in dead trees and competition with other cavity nesting birds.

For more information go to http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/northern_flicker/id