Flicker bird

Northern flicker
   Flicker is any of a group of brown woodpeckers ranging from Alaska to southern Chile. Most flickers are about 12 inches long. Their brown feathers are barred or spotted with black, and they have a white rump patch, a red patch on the back of the neck, and a black crescent on the breast. Like other woodpeckers, flickers have stiff tail feathers, which help support them when they climb up trees. Their bounding flight is also typical of woodpeckers. Flickers have a variety of loud calls, but they also communicate with one another by tapping rhythmically with their bills on trees, television antennas, or rooftops.

   The flicker's bill is more slender and curved than the chisel-shaped bill of other woodpeckers. The flicker also differs from most other woodpeckers in that it feeds chiefly on the ground, not in trees. Poking its bill into an ant burrow, the bird draws out the insects on its long sticky tongue, which can extend as far as 2½ inches beyond its bill. Like other woodpeckers, flickers nest in holes cut into dead trees, poles, or branches. They usually lay four to eight glossy white eggs.

   One of the best-known species is the yellow-shafted flicker (Colaptes auratus), which lives east of the Rocky Mountains and is known by many popular names, including yellowhammer. The shafts and the undersides of the wing and tail feathers are yellow, and the adult male has a black moustache or whiskers. The red-shafted flicker (Colaptes cafer) ranges from the Pa­cific Coast to the Great Plains. The wing and tail feathers have red shafts and undersides, and the male's moustache is red.