Ellen Blackstone of BirdNote is having a wild time in her North Seattle garden.
She writes "I don't know about you, but the Northern Flickers in our neighborhood are going crazy at the moment! Two males chase a female from pole to pole. The female sits quietly, looking away, while the males bounce and fence, making that wild "wikka-wikka" call. "
Photographer Mike Hamilton captures the drama as two male flickers square off - look how intense their eyes are as they size up their opponent...
Female flickers aren't above a little rowdiness and joisting about too...
And the racket when flickers pound away on your rain gutters or roof vents! This drumming is advertising for a mate. A BirdNote show, "Flicker Attack" describes the difference between drumming, drilling, and excavating. Drumming may be noisy, but not a problem. But drilling and excavating? Not so good. The show has tips on how to deal with flickers that have your home in mind for their home.
How to tell the males from the females? Like most woodpeckers, the males are dashed with red, while the females are a little more drab. But you might see two males that look different from each other. In the West, we have mainly the "red-shafted" form, while folks back east will see the "yellow-shafted." Still, you're quite likely to see a hybrid of the two, also known as an "intergrade." Those dashing males sport both the red nape and the red mustache.
Thanks to Mike Hamilton for the top photos, and Tom Grey and Tom Talbott for the composite photo showing male and female markings.