By Dave Hanks

If I could give another name to “Indian Summer” it would be “The Time of the Flicker”. The late autumn months are full of much woodpecker activity in our yard. Especially plentiful is our county’s largest one – the RED- SHAFTED FLICKER (12 ˝ inches long). It’s such an appealing bird with its poke-a-doted belly, black chest crescent, and red moustache. When in flight, it flashes the orange/red under parts of its wings and tail (thence its name) and a conspicuous white rump patch.

As I step outside each morning in autumn, I’m greeted by these birds in undulating flight – wings flashing color and that white rump patch bobbing up and down as they scurry to a distant perch. The yard “teems” with an abundance of these birds.

Flickers like open woodlands and suburban areas. Snags (standing dead trees) or soft wood trees such as Aspen are preferred when drilling nest cavities. Their long beaks and tongues facilitate the procurement of ants and other types of insects – whether on or in the bark of a tree, or on the ground. They also like fruit and we often see them feeding on our elderberry bushes. Their call is a loud wik – wik – wik – wik and wick-er, wick-er, wick-er, and a single, loud klee-yer.

The eastern variety (Yellow-Shafted) has yellow under-parts, a black moustache, and a red crescent on the back of its head.

When I sit in a blind, by a water source, and see them come in close, it always makes my pulse race!