Northern Flicker


Northern Flicker

Astonishing!! That loud, repetitively piercing wicka-wicka-wicka call directs us to a large, distinctive forest bird showing dark breast polka-dots, an improbable black bib and a long, stiff, spikey tail veritably dripping in red! That “take-no-prisoners” dynamic upstart has most certainly returned!

Astonishing! is not a hyperbolic description but rather a quite sober appraisal of a truly magnificent woodpecker (yes, a woodpecker!) that abandons us each Spring to fly to its northern breeding grounds but then thankfully, most dutifully returns to overwinter in our own parks and backyards during our coldest and wettest months. Notably, the Northern Flicker is one of the few woodpecker species that migrates, making its fall return a highly anticipated event.

Roger Tory Peterson is credited as being the father of contemporary birding with the explosive publication in 1934 of the first practical, modern Bird Field Guide for the average citizen just walking through the woods. Bird-watching, or as we say today, Birding, was thus born. Hundreds of years of “shoot them, describe them, and then name them after yourself or a friend” had effectively ended.

As an eleven year old boy in 1920 wandering the vast, soon to be felled, old-growth forests of a bucolic northeastern New York, he chanced upon a large, “most wonderous bird”, that first appeared drab, frail and injured but at his concerned, tentative touch suddenly exploded colorfully forth to his most astonished wonder! A Northern Flicker!!

In that moment, young Roger Tory Peterson was utterly transformed. The artist, illustrator, author, and conservationist embraced the Northern Flicker as being his Spark Bird. It changed his life and served to change the direction of history.

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Bird of the month flyer

Betty Kanne

Betty Kanne is a passionate birder based in Huntington Beach, California, known for her captivating "Bird of the Month" features authored for the HB Tree Society. With a keen eye and a deep appreciation for avian life, Betty brings to life the diverse array of bird species that call the Huntington Beach area home.

Betty's contributions play a vital role in raising awareness about the importance of birds in our ecosystems. Her dedication to sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for birding inspires others to engage with nature and become stewards of their local environment, fostering a deeper connection between the community and the rich avian diversity of Huntington Beach, California.

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