Flickers prefer to nest in dead trees. Both sexes excavate a cavity from 10 to 90 feet
up. If natural cavities are available, however, the Flicker will choose one of these
rather than creating one of its own (lazy??) In regions where cavities are in short
supply, Flickers will compete with other cavity nesters such as Starlings, Kestrels, and
other species of woodpeckers. From 3 to 12 white eggs, incubated by both parents, hatch in
about 12 days. Both parents care for the young, who leave the nest in just under a month.
The Bird Banding Lab web site reports that between 1955 and 1997, a total of 54,070 Yellow-shafted Flickers were banded. Of these,
876 have been recovered, a recovery rate of 1.62 %. Banding studies show that
Yellow-shafted Flickers are short distance migrants, and can live up to 12 years in the
If you should recover a banded bird, please report the band number to the Bird Banding
Lab by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
Flicker populations appear to be declining. Contributing factors are undoubtedly the
loss of suitable nesting sites (dead trees) and competition with other cavity nesting
birds. The European Starling is particularly aggressive toward Flickers. I once observed a
Starling that grabbed a Flicker on the back with its feet and threw it off of a suet
feeder!!! The insect diet of Flickers plays an important role in the control of insects
pests, especially ants, caterpillars, termites, beetles, grasshoppers and aphids.
Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part 1. Slate Creek Press,
Bolinas, CA. 732 Pp.
Winkler, H., D. A. Christie, and D. Nurney. 1995. Woodpeckers. An identification guide
to the woodpeckers of the world. Houghton Mifflin Co., NY. 406 Pp.
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