Perhaps one of the most striking North American woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker is a year-round resident of Maine woodlands, and as temperatures rise you can expect to come across this bird more frequently. Flickers spend most of their time foraging for ants and beetles, fitting their specially-adapted curved bill into hard-to-reach spots. This distinctly patterned woodpecker has a polka-dot covered breast with notable black and red shapes around its face and chest. The Northern Flicker uses drumming (a mechanical noise) instead of vocalizing to proclaim its territory, a common behavior amongst woodpeckers. Woodpeckers will find objects to drum on that will create the loudest noise possible, usually a hollow dead tree, but sometimes metal signs or telephone poles. If it has discovered the right material, a flicker can be heard from at least half a mile away.
Backyard Bird of the Month is a feature by Maine Audubon created for the Maine Home Garden News, the newsletter of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension: Garden and Yard. Photo by Doug Hitchcox.