You’ve heard of it, right? That prank where the first one that falls asleep at a party wakes up with a sharpie mustache? That’s what I think of when I see a Northern Flicker – only he got a bib and a bunch of polka dots as a bonus!
These woodpeckers are common in Georgia, but uncommon in my backyard, so I was delighted when one stopped in for a visit yesterday afternoon. I wish he had perched where I could have gotten a better picture, one without all the glare, but alas, this was the best I could get.
Northern Flickers are similar in size and appearance to Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and the two can be difficult to tell apart from a distance. But when you can get a closer look, the mustache (only found on the male, which is fitting) and the breast markings are a dead give away. The flicker also has more of a brownish-gray back instead of the black and white checks that the red-bellied displays.
Here in Georgia, the flickers have a bright flash of yellow hidden beneath their wings, which is why they are sometimes referred to as Yellow-shafted Flickers. You can see a glimpse of it in the picture below. In the west, these birds have a red shaft of color. Wish I could have gotten a picture of one posing with his wings spread open; who knows, maybe he will bless me with a return visit.