600-14-115For more than two months this male northern flicker and his mate maintain a territory centered around their nesting cavity in an Alaskan black spruce forest. Flickers are the most common woodpecker in Alaska’s interior.

600-14-126The female peers out of the cavity containing seven naked chicks.

600-14-85Male flicker approaching side of nesting snag for verticle landing.

600-14-88Articulating wings pivot for complex, final adjustments in approach.

600-14-128Male peers into the snag before entering to feed the chicks by regurgitating.  Ants, adults, larva and eggs are their primary food which they collect with their long, sticky tongue to probe tunnels in wood and underground.

600-14-106With a flash of gold, the male explodes from the cavity after feeding chicks.

600-14-116As the young grow there is intense competition to be in front of the line at feeding time.

600-14-130Juvinile flickers ready to fledge spend their final day in the nesting cavity. Adults have been tempting them out of the nest by calling from nearby perches and withholding food.

600-14-91Northern flickers, though speedy fliers, are preyed upon by even faster raptors like the northern goshawk and the northern hawk owl.

hawk_owl_031Northern hawk owl with yellow-shafted flicker on the butcher block.

32-184-4_redsquirrel                     bufflehead_002

Young red squirrels find their old flicker hole safe and secure but maybe a bit short on elbow room. Abandoned flicker cavities are in high demand as wild nurseries for a variety of small wildlife including boreal owls, tree swallows, bluebirds, and a family of day old bufflehead ducks. (right)


600-14-103     Without Flash


With Flash

The most striking quality of the northern flicker is the dramatic yellow underwing and tail. Using an electronic flash brings out this beautiful detail.


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