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Photo © Rob Curtis / The Early Birder

Northern flicker

This woodpecker is mostly brownish and feeds on the ground, including mowed urban lawns. When fleeing, it shows a large white rump patch. Western birds show a salmon-pink flavor under wing and tail, explaining the northern flicker’s former name — the red-shafted flicker — while eastern birds (yellow-shafted flickers) show yellow. The two used to be considered different species, but in areas of overlap, hybridization is rampant, resulting in the two becoming lumped into one species in the 1980s. The northern flicker is a highly migratory species — cold weather pushes birds that breed in the north to Texas to overwinter. Very few stick around in the summer, but some pairs find the Texas heat pleasant and breed spottily across our state.

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