Northern Flicker

As some of you may know, I have been monitoring about 35 nest boxes on three Bluebird Trails going on seven years now. Over the past six years I have fledged 6 House Wrens …

House Wren Nest With Eggs

16 Violet-green Swallows

Violet-green Swallow Female

24 White-breasted Nuthatches

White-breasted Nuthatch Nestlings

48 Ash-throated Flycatchers

Ash-throated Flycatcher Nestlings

86 Tree Swallows

Tree Swallow Nestlings

114 Oak Titmice

Oak Titmouse Nestlings

 and 400 Western Bluebirds!

Western Bluebird Fledglings

 Three years ago I placed two Northern Flicker (Collaptes auratus) nest boxes on a couple of oak trees on my property, hoping to attract a pair of nesting Flickers.

Northern Flicker Nest Box Plan

They’re pretty easy to make with one ten foot length of 2X8 as seen in this diagram. I skipped the hinges on the box lid and simply screwed it on. I packed the box with cedar shavings, simulating a snag with decaying wood on the inside, and I waited. Three years I waited. Then, a couple of weeks ago, my wife is looking out the window and says “hey, what’s going on out there in that tree?” It looked like it was snowing. The male Red-shafted Flicker was tossing the shavings out the entrance! I ran to get my video camera but it was too late. He was done excavating the cavity in the box.

The male will beckon the female to the nest site with a ritual tapping at the cavity. In this case he is calling her from the inside of the nest box.

Both sexes  participate in cavity excavation, but the male plays the dominant role. The female lays 6 to 8 smooth, glossy white eggs which both adults incubate for 11 to 13 days. Except in rare cases, the male does all nighttime incubation, switching with his mate just after sunrise and just before sunset. I removed the lid after the female left the nest box to get this shot of the eggs, just before sunset.

Northern Flicker Eggs

I’m looking forward to documenting the nesting of my first pair of Northern Flickers raising a brood in my Flicker Box!

Northern Flicker Female in Nest Box

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.