This gorgeous woodpecker is a breathtaking sight when it flashes its lemon-yellow underwings in flight. In the southern states, this bird is actually known as the “yellowhammer.”
The flicker is the only woodpecker species that is fond of feeding on the ground; up to 45% of their diet can consists of ants and their larvae. The bird can be seen attacking the ground to find insects in the same way that other woodpeckers excavate the wood of trees.
This bird used to be known in the eastern United States as the yellow-shafted flicker, due to the bright lemon midrib evident on the bird’s wing feathers. It has been discovered that this bird’s relatives, the red-shafted and orange-shafted flickers of the western states, are simply regional variations of the same species; all of these birds are now termed northern flickers. An excellent comparison of the regional variations in the colors of the feather shafts is on display in Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Bird Hallway exhibition.