Thursday, January 30, 2014

Flickers on a Rainy Day

Rain makes lots of animals behave differently than they normally do. Many birds either take shelter or, like the American robin, head out to forage for drowning worms. The other day (and by other day, I mean several months ago, because I kept forgetting to post this post) during a rainstorm, I was walking with my friend Mona when we noticed a flicker stabbing repeatedly at the ground.

Here is a picture of the end result of what we were witnessing!
According to one source, the Puget Sound Backyard Birds, ants compose about 80% of a flickers diet, and foraging for this tasty insect snack is probably what the flicker was doing as it continually stabbed its beak into the ground! Even if it wasn't looking for ants, most of the flickers diet is insects. During the winter, when insects can become scarce, the flicker consumes berries and seeds. Certainly an unusual diet and foraging behavior for a woodpecker!

Below is a video uploaded by Deepa Mohan of a flicker foraging for food.  As you can see in the video, this flicker is foraging when the weather outside is not so frightful.  I assume that perhaps the flicker we saw was active while it was raining both because the insects would be scurrying around trying to find safe ground, and also probably because the ground was softer than usual.  
Like other woodpeckers, the flicker will nest in holes of trees, but will sometimes nest in the abandoned burrows of birds such as the belted kingfisher or the bank swallow, whose nests are located in holes within the earth.  Below is a picture of a pair of belted kingfishers flying into their nest:

Flickers are pretty common where I live, and they seem to be pretty common throughout the United States!  If you have any great flicker stories or pictures, make sure to send them in or comment below!

Works Cited:

"Northern Flicker." Puget Sound Backyard Birds. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <

Stokes, Donald W., Lillian Q. Stokes, and Paul E. Lehman. The Stokes field guide to the birds of North America. New York: Little, Brown, 2010. Print.

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