Saturday, February 8, 2014

Yellow-shafted Flicker

At first glance, having an ant-eating specialist surviving a Minnesota winter may be a surprise. But Northern Flickers—in this case the yellow-shafted form of the eastern North America—are actually generalists, consuming beetle larvae and a variety of wild berries and fruits during the winter. Obviously they also eat suet at bird feeders and they seem well adapted to human-modified habitats. 

Inexplicably, although presently abundant, flicker populations are significantly declining. Forest clearing, especially of trees with dead snags, and competition with starlings for nesting holes may be contributing to this decline. Whatever the causes, Breeding Bird Surveys and Christmas Bird Counts both show a 2 to 2.5% annual decline (Weibe and Moore 2008).

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