Woodpeckers and Hummingbirds
Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus)
Photo illustration: Canadian Geographic; Photo: Dominic Sherony
This showy, medium woodpecker can be seen in Canada from Yukon to Newfoundland, often favouring the ground in woodlands and forest edges near open habitats, yards and parks. They have barred brown upperparts and pale spotted underparts, with a black bib on their upper breast. In the east, northern flickers have bright yellow feathers on the undersides of their wings and tails; in the west, these feathers are red.
Vote for the Northern flicker for Canada’s National Bird
Comments and essays appear in the language in which they were submitted
As I entered Queens Park on a rain soaked day with puppy Shasta by my side we walked near a tree whose healthier days were behind it...no longer able to bear leaves...or grow limbs it stands as a reminder of how valued trees are to birds & animals whether young or elders on natures path. Atop this tree was a Northern Flicker whose wings were soaked with earlier rain. I like many have seen Northern Flickers on the grasses, forest floor foraging for insects, as well as on trees doing likewise however on this day I was going to be witness to a spectacular moment that will endure in my memories forever. The Northern Flicker spread its brilliant coloured orange wings time & time again....pruning...waving them to dry under the newly formed warm sunshine following the rain. The wings that I had seen inspire me often in flight were even more remarkable looking due to the rains bringing out an even more firey orange colour. Typically Canadian this hardy bird is friendly, sociable, adaptable, along with doing the snowbird routine as it migrates from some areas in Canada. This winter in BC it has been around throughout the season finding plenty of grassy areas to dig in...and trees to nourish itself. When the Northern Flicker flies it does so like a wave gracing the air....reminding me of our Canadian Flag in the breeze. It is a unique flying style that distinguishes it from other birds. The Northern Flicker is typically not seen alone....usually when I see it there is a partner nearby...or perhaps if I am very fortunate may see a few of them in same place however that seems to be a rare event. Yesterday I was shown a set of photos as I walked & met up with Bill. Bill is a fellow nature lover who was equipped with a bag of seeds doing some feeding...carrying photos of birds he enjoys. One of the photos was of a Northern Flicker feeding its young....in a tree similar to the one I had seen one drying off after a heavy rain. I believe the Northern Flicker should be named Canadas National Bird due to its Canadian Characteristics of resilience, ingenuity in adapting to various weather climates , landscapes throughout our country... including migrating to warmer climates to survive if need be, then returning when conditions are right. The Northern Flicker's beautiful plumage is unparalleled. It wears seemingly a coat of arms on its front coloured black...scarlet red is prominent on its head....as well as hue of orange which surrounds its prominent beak. A beak that is strong as a jackhammer in earth or trees. Its eyes are bold and expressive...especially when the sun shines on them. Covering its rich dense plumage are an array of well positioned hearts adorning a creamy greyish front. Along its back lies a polar bear coloured like strip of plumage between its wings. Its wings hold one of natures secrets that is breathtaking to witness as the Northern Flicker takes flight. A brilliant orange takes to the air in the form of strong large wings unleashing colours that will rival any in Canada's skies I believe. Most importantly my life has been enriched by the Northern Flickers presence along the paths of nature. Today like most days when I visit nature ....there is a moment...that moment...where I see the Flicker perched....or flying....or in the grass probing for insects. I know I am in a special place...that I keep returning to hoping to see my ever present host....who asks for nothing in return. Typical Canadian. The last few weeks in BC's Delta Region, & Along The Fraser River I have been fortunate to have had many sightings of this beautiful bird in flight...its wave like motion always ignites an emotion in me....as I position my camera. Never once have I missed an opportunity to take a picture of this inspiring bird....it is not a bird to be taken for granted....truly a special bird I have come to know. The Northern Flicker is going to need plenty of votes to come from behind .....yet as all Northerners....as all Canadians....we know it isn't over till its over.
— Submitted on Friday, January 30, 2015 by Chris Parlow
(New Westminster, BC)
Beautiful with a hint of red, that reminds us of the red in our Cdn flag. Dignified but still determined looking. The North should be remembered.
— Submitted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Jean Yip
The Northern Flicker is not only a beautiful bird, it also has a wonderful disposition. It is such a calm bird, and seems to get along with almost every other bird it encounters.
— Submitted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Patricia Onofrechuk
Both the beaver and the northern flicker love our Canadian woodlands and forests.
— Submitted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Cathy Ferguson
Beautiful, curious and friendly, they nest in our trees and it's fun to watch the adults with their babies - great birds!
— Submitted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Larry Mroz
Has a great call and beautiful plumage. What more does one want in a bird?
— Submitted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by bruce baird
I love the northern flicker
— Submitted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Kristin Pearce
Last summer I had 5 of them in my backyard. I wasn't sure which bird they were, but through my own efforts on my pc,
I learned who they were. (ground feeding woodpecker)
— Submitted on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Janet Cheng
The northern flicker is a great bird that should be Canada’s national bird because of it’s great colors. Their main color is red. Just like Canada! The thing that shocked me was the fact that I didn’t know that Canada didn’t have a national bird. I think every bird should be given a chance but this one should be given first place. My teacher asked us “What is the national bird of India?” We answered. “What is the national bird of Mexico?” We answered. “What is the national bird of Canada?” We all stayed silent because we didn’t know. Of course we didn’t know! And that is why we are doing this project. In this bird project I will be describing the adaptations, lift, and bernoulli’s principle on this bird
One adaptations that all lying birds have is barbules. It is the weaving pattern of their wing. This bird has adapted to it’s surroundings. It like’s cold places so Canada would be it’s place to be. This is a very beautiful bird because of it’s vibrant and not so vibrant colors. On the inside of it’s wings it has a bright red. On the outside of it’s wings it has a wood looking color. The reason for this is so that they can blend in with the tree (since they are woodpeckers). This bird also adapted to it’s bones. All bird bones are hollow. They also have a fused collar bone that allows the to touch their wings behind their backs.
Every bird has lift, but every bird is affected in different ways. There are 3 scenarios of lift. There is scenario 1 - flight is when lift>gravity. This is what helps a bird fly and stay in the air. My bird uses this scenario a lot. There is scenario 2 - fall is when lift
This is kind of complicated but I’ll try to describe it as easily as I can. Bernoulli’s principle has two parts to it. The first is the fact that fast moving air that creates low pressure, should occur at the top of a wing so that birds and airplanes can stay in the sky. The second part to it is the other fact that slow moving air creates high pressure, should occur under the wing so that an airplane and a bird can stay in the sky.
— Submitted on Monday, April 18, 2016 by lauren coone
This is my choice because it lives all over our great land. It is strikingly beautiful and its feathery markings are very distinctive. When we lived in Huron County (half an hour inland from Lake Huron) in the '90s, we had daily visits to our huge lawn from this bird, seeking ants to eat. One year there were 7 of them! I guess it was all the members of one family. Sadly, the very next year, someone logged the old-growth timber from a very small woodlot across the road nearby (Highway 25 between Blyth and Walton), leaving only the younger though tall trees, and from then on we hardly saw any flickers, although we lived there for several years afterwards.
— Submitted on Monday, February 22, 2016 by Pat Cathers
The Northern Flicker is a frequent visitor to our backyard and we see it when we are driving around Alberta and BC on camping trips!
— Submitted on Friday, January 8, 2016 by Sherri Fownes
We see the Northern Flicker in our backyard every Spring and Fall.
— Submitted on Monday, October 5, 2015 by Alice Styan
(Wasaga Beach, ON)
I think the Northern Flicker should be canada's National bird because it is a wonderful bird and it is good song bird and is in city parks and it is indangerd so it is almost out of egsistint but if it is canadas bird it will be around.
— Submitted on Friday, May 22, 2015 by Rachel Fournier
I like the Northern Flicker because the Northern Flicker is endangered and we need to help it and the first step to do that is to make Canada's national bird. Also the Northern Flicker is very easy to spot so you can enjoy them. Please vote for the Northern Flicker so they don't die in vain. I'm 10 years old.
— Submitted on Friday, May 22, 2015 by Jeevan S
I think the Northern Flicker should be named Canada's National bird because it is up beet and happy like us Canadians. Also it is a cute and friendly songbird. When you see the Northern Flicker it will blow your mind how beautiful it is. You should vote for the Northern Flicker it should be Canada's National bird
VOTE FOR IT!!!! :)
— Submitted on Friday, May 22, 2015 by Ella Campbell
The Flicker has always been one of my favourite birds ever since I was a little girl. We had a family of them on our family farm every year and now even though I live in another community we have them in our backyard picking away in the back yard for bugs. Long live the Flicker!
— Submitted on Thursday, May 21, 2015 by Kathy Kelly
I love the cheeky flashiness of this bird. They think nothing of interrupting a quiet afternoon with sudden loud drumming on unsuspecting chimneys and poles, advertising for a mate.
I'm always surprised by that sudden red-orange flash when they soar down to the suet feeder in winter. Such a vivid gift in winter's greyness.
— Submitted on Saturday, May 9, 2015 by Valerie Coles
(North Vancouver, BC)
Je vote pour le pic flamboyant. Il est aussi industrieux que le castor notre embleme national. Je le trouve tres beau.
— Submitted on Monday, April 27, 2015 by Claire Berry
(Sparwood BC, BC)
C'est un oiseau tout à fait splendide!
Bien présent dans la nature de par ses cris qui ne passent pas inaperçus et bien visible lorsqu'il vole en raison du déploiement de ses ailes qui dévoile un magnifique jaune éclatant, couleur de la vie et du mouvement, dit-on. (Source: code-couleurs.com). Le jaune étant de plus une couleur primaire qui, selon moi, nous rappelle la base de tout, soit nos origines et notre histoire. Aussi, n'oublions surtout pas sa crête rouge qui fait un rappel du rouge du drapeau du Canada.
Par ailleurs, notons que cet oiseau est présent dans presque toutes les provinces canadiennes (Nunavut à vérifier).
Enfin, si cet oiseau est choisi comme emblème aviaire du Canada, je me permet de vous suggérer que le pic flamboyant soit affiché avec ses ailes déployées pour montrer son beau jaune et sa crête rouge en évidence.
— Submitted on Thursday, March 19, 2015 by Stéphanie Charron
After months of cold, dark winter, the unique call of a Northern Flicker is a very welcome sound to hear. The distinct "ki ki ki" and the loud knock of "I claim this to be my domain" always attracts my attention and has me searching upward to find this beautifully marked harbinger of Spring! The Flicker's vividly contrasting colours and large size make it one of the most stunning birds to view. While Canada has many other birds that deserve recognition; the Goldfinch, Killdeer, Great Horned Owl and others that did not make this list, I sincerely hope the Northern Flicker is recognized for the wonderful bird that it is!
— Submitted on Wednesday, March 4, 2015 by Bernice Emery
When I was in grade 3, I became aware of this bird. We were living in Port Elgin Ontario and a pair nested in an old maple tree in our back yard. I remember my father working diligently to deter the starlings that were trying to take over the flicker nest. I've loved the Northern Flicker and have noticed it ever since. Thanks Dad for sharing your love of birds with me. I adore you and the Northern Flicker both!
— Submitted on Saturday, February 21, 2015 by Meaghan Morrissey
Oiseau élégant, assez commun mais méconnu.Très intéressant à observer par son dynamisme. Peu farouche.
— Submitted on Thursday, February 12, 2015 by Evelyne Sabourin
Some years ago when I was living in Windsor, Ontario, I was an avid bird watcher. I had many types of feeders and fountains at my home to attract birds through-out the seasons. Many species appeared faithful in my yard year after year.
This one morning I was bird watching out my window when I spotted this large brownish bird with very noticeable black crescents on it's chest. It was a new species to my yard. It was rummaging around on the ground, turning and showing off it's bright yellow tail.I had never seen this bird before and was so excited I went scrabbling for my bird identification books. I discovered it was a Northern Flicker and happily wrote it down in my bird sighting book.
I thought it the most striking bird I'd ever seen with it's unusual colouring and markings. It stay around my yard for another day, and I feel, even after many more years of bird sightings, very fortunate to have seen this lovely woodpecker. The Northern Flicker is a remarkable looking bird, unique like our country. Even it's name sounds unique. This is why I would like to see it become our country's national bird.
— Submitted on Monday, February 9, 2015 by MiChelle Brisebois-St. Antoine
Sa présence, comme son nom l'indique est tout à fait flamboyante.
C'est un oiseau puissant par son vol, son cri et son acharnement
à chercher sa nourriture.
— Submitted on Monday, February 9, 2015 by Richard Béland
Early one spring, before the leaves were fully out on the trees, my young son and I watch as a Northern Flicker made a hole in one of the dead trees on our property. Mr. and Mrs. Flicker took up residence and started nesting. It seemed like time flew and one day we noticed that Mr. Flicker was back and forth to the nest while Mrs. Flicker stayed at the opening of the tree. A quick check with our binoculars and we saw the little heads of her chicks as they tried to peek out in to the big world that awaited them. It was a fascinating summer for my son as we watched the little babies venture out on their first flights, followed by lessons in how to catch worms and bugs on the ground. All too soon they packed up and left for the winter. The following spring we hoped to see a new family in residence, but nature had other plans and knocked that tree down. But each spring we look for the Northern Flicker and wonder if any of them are "our babies" come back home to live.
— Submitted on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 by Nuala Robinson
Northern flicker (Woodpeckers) is native all the country.
It is large and distinctive bird
— Submitted on Sunday, February 1, 2015 by Michael Martin
The variegated plumage represent the colors of our non-deciduous tree trunks of our wilderness forests (spruce/cedar/fir), plus the brilliant red spot on the neck (color of the canadian flag) as well as underwing and tail display when in flight, signifies the nature of our country and its patriotic connection, as well being a friendly bird underlining the peaceful nature of our people..
— Submitted on Sunday, February 1, 2015 by Nicole Kelly
(Mill Bay, BC, BC)
A cautious dude who visits our bird feeder regularly, who's unmistakable
call can be heard throughout the day. A bird of class and distinction.
We feel privileged to be in his presence.
— Submitted on Friday, January 30, 2015 by Doug Atchison
It is such a beautifully coloured bird, that is so entertaining to see.
— Submitted on Friday, January 30, 2015 by Kathie Currie
(New Westminster, BC)
It is a bird that does not get enough respect. Love seeing them. Mary
— Submitted on Thursday, January 29, 2015 by Mary Wold
Unique in many ways, the Northern Flicker could represent Canada on different levels. This little woodpecker can be found throughout our nation, accept the very far north. The varied colours of its plumage reflect our multi-cultural society, and the bright red and white highlights our national flag. The flicker is the only woodpecker that will frequently feed on the ground, showing the kind of wise adaptability the First Peoples lived by, and our immigrant nation was built on. Adult pairs travel and work together, building a home, incubating and fledging their young, emulating strong family values. While some flickers remain year round, most migrate south every winter for a holiday, but so do many Canadians.
— Submitted on Thursday, January 29, 2015 by Robert Fleming