Saturday, May 27, 2023

Irresistible! Attract Northern Flickers to Your Feeder

Northern Flickers are found coast-to-coast across North America. You probably have Northern Flickers in your neighborhood. But did you know that they will come to your bird feeder?

How do you attract Northern Flickers to your bird feeder? Follow these suggestions to attract Northern Flickers to your feeder.

Photo of Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker. Greg Gillson.

Why attract Northern Flickers to your bird feeder?

Northern Flickers are large and colorful birds. They have a unique feather pattern with barred back, spotted belly, and black crescent across the chest. The red or yellow shafts on the flight feathers draw attention in flight, as does the white rump.

These woodpeckers are often found on the ground eating ants and insect pests. So, they readily feed in the open and are easily attracted to bird feeders... if you offer the correct foods.

In addition, they usually occur individually, get along with other birds at the feeder, and don't eat small bird seeds. So they don't take over the bird feeder.

For all these reasons, Northern Flickers are good to have at your bird feeder and in your yard.

Photo of Northern Flicker

What foods will attract Northern Flickers to your feeder?

Northern Flickers eat ants. Lot's of ants. Unlike other woodpeckers, Northern Flickers hop on the ground and eat ants they find in your lawn.

But they will visit your bird feeder. At your bird feeder Northern Flickers will eat black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, shelled peanuts, peanut butter, and suet.

The best mixed bird seed that I have found is Wagner's Songbird Supreme (Amazon affiliate link). It is 50% sunflower seeds and doesn't have any cheap filler seed that birds won't eat. This seed attracts the largest variety of birds to your feeder.

These birds will also eat fruit and berries occasionally. One fruit that Northern Flickers are known to eat is purple grapes. You might also try grape jelly in a small cup.

Northern Flickers especially like to eat suet. It is their favorite food at your feeder.

For my home feeders, I always purchase St Albans Bay Suet blocks (Amazon affiliate link). It comes in several flavors, including peanut and berry. They fit in required special suet cages, which are a type of bird feeder. 

Photo of Northern Flicker

What kind of feeders do Northern Flickers like?

Because they are larger, Northern Flicker like to eat on large platform feeders. Here they can easily reach whatever foods they want.

The primary feeder for Northern Flickers is a suet feeder. It is amazing how they can hang onto even the smallest of suet cages!

I bought a Nature's Way Upside-down suet feeder (Amazon affiliate link) a couple years ago and have been very happy with it. Chickadees, nuthatches, bushtits, and woodpeckers eat from it easily. But starlings, blackbirds, and jays can't hang upside down to get at the suet.

This video is from my new YouTube channel. At Your Feeder: Northern Flicker. You may enjoy learning a bit more about this interesting bird in this brief video.

Where to place your bird feeder for Northern Flickers

Fortunately, Northern Flickers aren't too picky about the placement of your bird feeder. 

They actually might prefer a feeder more out in the open than other birds like. When frightened they usually just fly away. They are large enough, with a formidable bill, that many hawks go after smaller prey. 

Even though they eat on the ground, Northern Flickers are still woodpeckers. They dig their nest cavity in larger trees. They do spend time in trees. I have hung suet feeders from low branches of large trees and the flickers seemed to like that location just fine.

Photo of Northern Flicker

How else can you attract Northern Flickers to your yard?

I don't recall ever seeing a Northern Flicker at a bird bath, myself. There are photos online of flickers at bird baths, and most of these seem to be rough concrete types.

On the other hand, I have frequently seen flickers drinking from mud puddles. 

Northern Flickers are attracted to moving water, such as a recycling pond with natural-looking waterfalls.

They may also be attracted to berry-producing trees. Such trees as wild cherry, hackberry, dogwood, and oak trees provide food for Northern Flickers in fall and winter.

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Photo of Northern Flicker

Problems with Northern Flickers: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

Okay, I do have to warn you that there could be a downside to having Northern Flickers as a regular guest in your yard.

In spring, Northern Flickers announce their territory by drumming their bill rapidly on dead treetops or branches that carry sound a long distance.

You know what also makes a good sounding board? Your gutters or downspouts at 5 o'clock in the morning! A vent cover or metal siding on a garage or out building works well, too. This could start in April and continue into June.

And sometimes flickers may decide to drill into the siding of your home. If this is in the spring, then most likely they are drilling a nest hole. Remember that flickers eat ants on the ground, so they most likely aren't going after termites in your siding. But you might want to keep an eye on that possibility.

Northern Flickers don't eat easily from tube feeders. So you may want to switch from a platform feeder to a tube feeder to discourage woodpeckers, if they are a problem.

I really love the way my iBorn tube feeder (Amazon affiliate link) looks, with it's copper top.  A screwdriver takes off the lower perch and opens it up for cleaning. This feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds attracts all types of finches, chickadees, and nuthatches. The smaller perches and lack of tray mean that you'll have fewer House Sparrows, Starlings, Doves, and Jays at this feeder.

Bird FAQ

Ask questions in the comments below about attracting and feeding Northern Flickers and I'll add the answer here!


Why aren't birds coming to your feeder?

10 Fruits you should be feeding birds

First in series: Irresistible! Attract Mourning Doves to your feeder

Next in series: Irresistible! Attract House Sparrows to your feeder

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January 2023: Thank you so much for visiting! I am working on a YouTube channel on birds and bird watching. Check it out here:


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