|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The Yellow-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus auratus) resides in eastern North America. They are yellow under the tail and underwings and have yellow shafts on their primaries. They have a grey cap, a beige face and a red bar at the nape of their neck. Males have a black moustache. Colaptes comes from the Greek verb colapt, to peck. Auratus is from the Latin root aurat, meaning "gold" or "golden" and refers to the bird's underwing.Under the name "Yellowhammer" it is the state bird of Alabama.|
This bird's call is a sustained laugh, ki ki ki ki ..., more congenial than that of the Pileated Woodpecker. One may also hear a constant knocking as they often drum on trees or even metal objects to declare territory. Like most woodpeckers, Northern Flickers drum on objects as a form of communication and territory defense. In such cases, the object is to make as loud a noise as possible, and that’s why woodpeckers sometimes drum on metal objects. One Northern Flicker in Wyoming could be heard drumming on an abandoned tractor from a half-mile away.
Like many woodpeckers, its flight is undulating. The repeated cycle of a quick succession of flaps followed by a pause creates an effect comparable to a rollercoaster.
According to the Audubon guide, "flickers are the only woodpeckers that frequently feed on the ground", probing with their beak, also sometimes catching insects in flight. Although they eat fruits, berries, seeds and nuts, their primary food is insects. Ants alone can make up 45% of their diet. Other invertebrates eaten include flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, and snails. Flickers also eat berries and seeds, especially in winter, including poison oak and ivy, dogwood, sumac, wild cherry and grape, bayberries, hackberries, and elderberries, and sunflower and thistle seeds. Flickers often go after ants underground (where the nutritious larvae live), hammering at the soil the way other woodpeckers drill into wood. They have been observed breaking into cow patties to eat insects living within. Their tongues can dart out 2 inches beyond the end of the bill to snare prey. As well as eating ants, flickers have a behavior called anting, during which they use the acid from the ants to assist in preening, as it is useful in keeping them free of parasites.
Flickers may be obseved in open habitats near trees, including woodlands, edges, yards, and parks. In the western United States, one can find them in mountain forests all the way up to treeline. Northern Flickers generally nest in holes in trees like other woodpeckers. Occasionally, they have been found nesting in old, earthen burrows vacated by Belted Kingfishers or Bank Swallows. Both sexes help with nest excavation. The entrance hole is about 3 inches in diameter, and the cavity is 13-16 inches deep. The cavity widens at bottom to make room for eggs and the incubating adult. Inside, the cavity is bare except for a bed of wood chips for the eggs and chicks to rest on. Once nestlings are about 17 days old, they begin clinging to the cavity wall rather than lying on the floor.
Species: C. auratus
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