Attract Northern Flickers To Your Backyard: Tips & Tricks



Northern Flickers

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Transforming your backyard into an avian paradise and inviting the lovely Northern Flickers can be an immensely rewarding experience. This article, enriched with expert knowledge and practical tips, will assist you in making your backyard a Northern Flickers’ haven.

Attracting Northern Flickers to your backyard is a delightful journey that requires a blend of the right elements—food, water, safety, and a suitable nesting environment. It’s not just about witnessing the exquisite beauty of these birds; it’s also about contributing to the conservation of these wonderful creatures. With the right approach and a little patience, you can transform your backyard into a haven for Northern Flickers.

Let’s dive right in!

Key Takeaways

  • Northern Flickers can be attracted to bird feeders with sunflower seeds, peanuts, peanut butter, suet, and fruit. They prefer large platform feeders and suet feeders.
  • Beware of potential problems with Northern Flickers drumming on gutters or drilling into siding. Switching to tube feeders can discourage woodpeckers.
  • A recommended bird seed mix can attract a variety of birds to your backyard.
  • Placing bird feeders near berry-producing trees and moving water can also attract Northern Flickers.

Understanding the Northern Flickers

Before you set out on your journey to attract Northern Flickers to your backyard, it’s crucial to understand these magnificent creatures. Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers, native to most parts of North America. They are renowned for their distinctive markings and brilliant flight patterns. Unlike many of their woodpecker kin, Northern Flickers prefer foraging on the ground for ants and beetles.

Appearance and Behavior of Northern Flickers

Northern Flickers are one of the few woodpecker species that are easily recognizable. They have a slim, rounded head, slightly downturned beak, and a robust, square-tipped tail. What makes them stand out is their spotted plumage, a black crescent-shaped marking on their chest, and a white rump visible in flight.

Their behavior sets them apart, too. These birds are ground feeders and can often be seen pecking in lawns and under trees, unlike other woodpeckers who are often found drumming on tree trunks.

Habitat Preferences of Northern Flickers

While Northern Flickers can adapt to a variety of habitats, they primarily prefer woodland edges and open forests. They are also comfortable in human-dominated landscapes, including parks, suburbs, and agricultural fields. Understanding this adaptability is key to creating a Northern Flicker-friendly backyard.

Attracting Northern Flickers

Provide Food Sources

A primary way to attract Northern Flickers is by providing the foods they love. Northern Flickers are primarily insectivores, with a particular fondness for ants and beetles. Therefore, maintaining a healthy insect population in your backyard is crucial.

However, they also occasionally eat fruits and seeds. So, having native fruit trees or berry bushes can add to your backyard’s appeal.

The Ultimate Flicker Feast: Suet Plus Woodpecker Blend

The Woodpecker’s Delight: Nutritious, Eco-friendly, and Simply Irresistible!

Welcome Northern Flickers to your backyard with the Suet Plus Woodpecker Blend, a specially formulated blend designed to cater to their unique dietary needs. This high-energy, insect-rich blend is the ultimate treat for these distinct woodpeckers. Easy to use, it’s all set to turn your yard into a paradise for Northern Flickers!


  • Specially Formulated: Developed with the dietary needs of Northern Flickers in mind, this blend is packed with real insects providing the energy and nutrients these woodpeckers need.
  • Eco-friendly Packaging: The Suet Plus Woodpecker Blend comes in a “candy bar” wrapper, reducing waste and environmental impact.
  • Mess-Free Handling: The innovative packaging ensures easy and clean handling.
  • Highly Attractive to Birds: Not only Northern Flickers, but also a range of other tree-clinging and perching birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, and sparrows are drawn to this blend, making your backyard a hub of avian activity.


  • Size of Cakes: Some customers find the suet cakes smaller than expected. However, their high-energy content and attractiveness to birds make them a valuable addition to any backyard.
  • Attracts Squirrels: The tasty blend can also attract squirrels. Consider placing your suet feeder in a location that is difficult for squirrels to access, or invest in a squirrel-proof suet feeder.

Water and Bathing Facilities

Like all birds, Northern Flickers need access to fresh water for drinking and bathing. Bird baths can serve this purpose well. Opt for baths that are shallow and wide, with a rough bottom for easy gripping. Keep the water fresh and clean to ensure the birds’ health.

Setting up Suitable Nesting Spots

Northern Flickers are cavity nesters, typically choosing to nest in dead or decaying trees. If you have any such trees in your backyard, preserving them can provide an excellent nesting opportunity for Northern Flickers.

Quiet and Safe Environment

Northern Flickers, like most wildlife, prefer quiet and peaceful habitats. Try to keep noise and disturbance to a minimum. Moreover, ensure the safety of the birds by keeping predators like cats indoors.

Maintaining a Natural Landscape

A natural landscape, complete with native plants and trees, attracts a rich insect fauna, thereby attracting Northern Flickers. The more diverse the plant life, the more appealing your backyard becomes to various bird species.

Minimizing Chemical Use

Pesticides not only kill off the insects that Northern Flickers feed on, but they can also poison the birds. Using organic methods for pest control instead of chemical pesticides can make a huge difference.

Creating Awareness and Education

Educate your neighbors and local community about the importance of Northern Flickers and how to protect them. More people involved means more habitats for the birds, and a safer, larger environment for them to thrive.

Recommended Feeders and Food

Northern Flickers have a varied diet consisting mainly of ants and beetles. They also enjoy fruits, seeds, and nuts, making them one of the few woodpecker species that frequently feeds on the ground. During colder months when insects are scarce, they will resort to plant-based food, which is where bird feeders come in handy.

  • Suet Feeders: Northern Flickers love suet. It provides a high-fat, high-energy substitute for their insect-based diet. A suet feeder should be sturdy and capable of supporting the flicker’s weight. A cage-style suet feeder, preferably with a tail prop area, is ideal for accommodating these larger birds.
  • Platform Feeders: Since Northern Flickers often feed on the ground, platform or tray feeders are another suitable option. These feeders allow easy access to food and mimic their natural feeding behavior.
  • Hopper Feeders: Large hopper feeders can also accommodate Northern Flickers. These feeders offer larger openings and ledges for the birds to comfortably perch and feed.

Recommended Food for Northern Flickers

  • Suet: Suet is a great choice for attracting Northern Flickers, especially during winter. Choose plain suet or mixes that include fruits, nuts, or insects.
  • Peanuts: Unsalted, shelled peanuts are another favorite. They offer a high-energy food source that’s especially beneficial during the colder months.
  • Fruits: Flickers enjoy a variety of fruits. Consider adding chopped apples, oranges, or berries to your feeders.
  • Seeds: While not their first preference, flickers will also eat seeds when other food sources are scarce. Sunflower seeds, in particular, may be an appealing choice.
  • Use large platform feeders and suet feeders to accommodate Northern Flickers’ size and feeding habits.
  • Offer a variety of food options, including sunflower seeds, peanuts, peanut butter, suet, fruit, and ant food.
  • Regularly clean your feeders to prevent the spread of disease and mold growth.
  • Follow bird feeding ethics to ensure the health and well-being of the birds.

Optimal Placement and Viewing

Consider where you place your bird feeders (including how high to place your feeder) and how you position them for optimal viewing opportunities. Ideally, place your feeders near trees or shrubs to provide cover for birds to rest and observe their surroundings. This also provides a natural environment for birds to forage for insects and berries.

When it comes to viewing, consider investing in a pair of binoculars for a closer look at your feathered friends. There are many affordable binocular options available, ranging from compact and lightweight to more heavy-duty models for serious bird photography.

With binoculars, you can observe birds from a safe distance without disturbing them, making for a more enjoyable and respectful bird watching experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why aren’t Northern Flickers coming to my backyard even when I provide food?

Northern Flickers may not visit your backyard due to several reasons, including the presence of predators, too much noise, or lack of suitable nesting sites. Evaluate your backyard keeping these factors in mind.

What time of the year are Northern Flickers most likely to visit my backyard?

Northern Flickers are year-round residents in most parts of their range. However, they are most active during the breeding season, which is spring.

Are Northern Flickers aggressive?

No, Northern Flickers are not typically aggressive and are known to be quite tolerant of humans.

Can I use a birdhouse for Northern Flickers?

Yes, Northern Flickers readily accept birdhouses or nest boxes. Make sure they are large enough and placed at a suitable height.

How can I protect Northern Flickers from cats and other predators?

You can protect Northern Flickers by keeping pet cats indoors, installing protective nets around nesting sites, and avoiding the use of harmful chemicals in your backyard.

What should I do if a Northern Flicker is injured in my backyard?

If a Northern Flicker is injured, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator or bird rescue organization. They are equipped to handle and care for injured birds.

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