This is the third year in a row that I have a Northern Flicker visiting my suet feeders. Flickers are unique woodpeckers in that they forage mainly on the ground for their food which consists of ants and beetles. Thus they are usually a migratory woodpecker species that travels further south in the winter when the ground freezes and snow falls. But there are a few hardy ones that stick around here in Minnesota every season where they rely on suet, berries and seeds to get them through the winter.
There are two races of the Northern Flicker. Here in the eastern half of the country is the yellow-shafted. The Western species have red highlights on their wings and tails.
The males of both species can be distinguished by the mustache next to their bill. The flicker is a beautiful bird that has been declining in population. Threats to the species include a lack of nest sites due the removal of dead trees, predation by outdoor cats and insect decline due to lawn chemical applications.