Yesterday, I spooked some deer in my woods and saw their white tails flip as they ran.

This reminded me of a favorite bird I have not been seeing recently. The Northern Flicker. An un-sighting can be as noteworthy as a sighting.

What does a deer’s rump have to do with big tan woodpeckers that have black specks, yellow under their wings, and bluish heads with red spots?

Like deer, Flickers flash white at you as they take off.

There’s a big, bright patch on their lower back.

I don’t know why it’s there.

Girls have been highlighting their lower backs with tattoos for years. An attention-getting decoration. Maybe a Flicker’s white rump is also designed to grab attention.

Who’s to say? But, more important: who’s to see?

There are damn few Flickers around. Even the ornithologists call it a “decline.” I didn’t realize I hadn’t been seeing these birds until the deer’s white tails reminded me.

Flickers are among my favorites. That they’re largely unseen these days is disturbing. If you made a film called “Unseen,” people would think it was a scary movie.


The above post ran in May of 2012. Since then, it’s received a lot of comments, more than 100 at last count. One just recently came in, almost four years later. It’s good news that people are seeing Flickers, and when they Google them, they often wind up viewing this page. Thanks to everyone who commented, and told us that Flickers are alive and well.

178 Responses to “Unseen.”

  1. eugene goodwin says:

    I saw a group this morning. Gathered around a vacant Martin House. DeKalb, MS

  2. Kate says:

    Saw it in my yard in Hendersonville NC stayed all day

  3. teresa says:

    I have 4 of these birds in my back yard as I’m writing this, I live where we have woods & lots of roaming deer! Staunton Va

  4. Michael Newman says:

    I am in Vicksburg, MIssissippi at my in-s weekend. I saw a flicker in the yard this morning and didn’t recognize it. Realized I saw it yesterday on the side of a tree, too. Like many others, I found your blog when looking for it. I have enjoyed reading your entries. I thank you for the effort you put into it.

  5. Fran says:

    How can I get you a picture and see if what we had in the yard the other day are Flickers. There were about 7 of them in the field and I had never seen them before. My picture is from far off and grainy but it sure looks like the picture you have posted above. Would love to know for sure if that’s what it is.

  6. Linda Renzoni says:

    Hello, I had one of these at my birdfeeder today.. I have not ever seen one.. He was eating my suet..
    I live in Millbury Ma

  7. Natalie says:

    I was looking out the window this morning and much to my surprise were three of these beauties on the ground in my backyard. It is heavily wooded and I have lots of birds visit me and lots of deer. My nephew says that my yard is like being at the zoo.

  8. wendy says:

    Saw a male and female just now “eating” grass! We also have pileated woodpeckers hanging around too! (Very Northeastern PA)

  9. Matt says:

    We have a couple in the field behind our house here in Brighton Michigan.

  10. Laura says:

    I just saw about 8 -10 of these birds in my back yard and had to look it up.
    I had never seen them before.
    I live in northwest Pennsylvania

  11. Merideth Geers says:

    Just saw 2 in my back yard in Central NY. Don’t remember seeing these before. Had to look up.

  12. Lance says:

    Just saw one in my yard near Lake George NY. Never saw one before and your site had the clearest picture. BTW, lots of deer too.

  13. Thomas Moersch says:

    I’m just seeing one in my backyard in University Park in Regina. The bird has a beautiful scarlet ‘V’ on its neck.

  14. David Habermehl says:

    Just saw two outside my kitchen window in Wayne, MI. The bright red V on the back of their necks caught my attention.

  15. Shannon says:

    Just saw one that looked like the picture you have here. I hadn’t seen one (at least not close up) before. It was in my yard and I saw the red on its neck, which brought me to Google and here.

  16. Mary Ellen says:

    Milton,NH. Just saw a Flicker First time ever

  17. Luann says:

    Just saw one in my yard yesterday morning, foraging in the grass. I remember seeing this same type of bird last year, probably about the same time of year. I’m near Saginaw, MI, but in a country setting. The red spot on its head definitely gets your attention along with the black patch on the chest. I also appreciated the picture posted which made it easy to identify this bird.

  18. Geri says:

    Just saw one on the sidewalk eating something outside our window in Dearborn, Michigan!
    First time we ever saw one!

  19. Ernie says:

    Saw one this morning in Bellingham, MA. Never saw one before. Very striking.

  20. Gena says:

    Saw my first one today on Nolin Lake in south central Kentucky.

  21. Helen says:

    Northern Flicker…on my lawn today…Sunday, May 20, Winchester, Massachusetts…beautiful colors, feather pattern!!!

  22. C Rob says:

    I saw one today. I was sitting on my patio and it came up to 3 feet of me for about 20 seconds. Never got that close before so had to look it up and now I realize there are a few of these on my property every year

  23. andy says:

    Just saw one of these in Northeast Indiana.

  24. Dave says:

    Saw one this AM in my backyard.

    Grimsby, ON, Canada

  25. Ashley says:

    Thanks for posting this blog. I have never seen one until this morning. I have been living in Michigan for 30 years. It came right up to the screen. Thanks! Livonia MI

  26. Heather Smith says:

    I just had one in my backyard in Salem, New Hampshire. This is the first time I’ve every seen this bird. Very exciting!

  27. Shelly says:

    We saw your Northern Flicker yesterday in our front yard at our bird feeder. I’m so excited to see such a pretty bird along with the usual finches, robins, etc.

  28. Carrie says:

    Have never seen one until today looking out my kitchen window! Had to immediately investigate! Beautiful bird :) Hope to see more!
    Lookout, WI

  29. Jeanette Baumgras says:

    I just saw a Flicker in Cadillac Michigan.

  30. B O'Connor says:

    saw one on 6-23-16 in Falmouth, MA. had never seen one before and looked it up online and found this page.

  31. Alex Plante says:

    I saw one on June 29 2016 in Greenfield Park, Quebec (a suburb of Montreal). I also had never seen one before, so Googled “bird with a red triangle on the back if its neck” and found this page.

  32. Carters says:

    Saw two in Ypsilanti Michigan this morning

  33. Donna L. Cook says:

    Just saw one in my yard in Grenloch, NJ. Googled to see what it was and found it right away. Thanks for the information.

  34. Tracey says:

    Morning! I just saw two of these beautiful birds in my yard! At first I thought it was a woodpecker, but kept searching. I’m not usually “into” birds, I see them-they are pretty-then they are gone, no biggie; but this bird I hadn’t seen before and was pretty, so curiosity got the best of me and here I am. Thanks for the information.

  35. Jon Q says:

    Saw an usual bird in my yard today. Google brought me to this page and turns out it was a Flicker. Central MN. Thanks for the website.

  36. Cindy Moore says:

    Was looking out my kitchen window and saw two of these beautiful birds on the grass feeding. One was the baby as the bigger one occasionally feed him. I have never seen this type of bird so I had to check it out.
    New. Rochelle, NY

  37. Kristin G says:

    I’ve been seeing this type of bird for quite awhile now and thought I’d google it to see what it is. Beautiful bright red marking on back of head with a football under eye type black mark on upper chest. Haven’t experienced the fly away white yet but will be watching for it now. Interesting – I’m in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia.

  38. Kristin G says:

    WOW! I’ve only ever saw just the one and now I just saw 3 fly into my front yard for a brief stay in the low branches of small trees and saw the white as they flew off…

  39. Cindy S says:

    I have a family of them in the yard right now.
    In PA

  40. Karen says:

    Saw a pair just now while visiting Saginaw Valley University in Michigan. Notable to that SVSU has paid a lot of attention to maintaining and restoring natural habitats on campus.

  41. LaDonna says:

    Just saw one in my backyard in Woburn, MA

  42. Maria says:

    We saw a flock of northern flicker’s in my back yard in Merrimack NH.
    Awesome birds..

  43. Lucie says:

    Saw one this morning Foxboro ont

  44. Arlene says:

    Saw one this morning! Not sure I have seen one before. It was feeding on the ground and flashed its white spot as it flew to a nearby lilac tree after being disturbed by two rolling squirrels. :) Niagara, Ontario

  45. kevin says:

    My self and my wife seen two on our backyard lawn this afternoon feeding didn,t know what is was until I seen it on this site

  46. john baltazar says:

    I saw one today (sept 12 2016) at springer dr in richmond hill Ontario

  47. Alex says:

    3 in the yard at the farm yesterday between rain showers.
    Clayton Ontario.

  48. Chris Coates says:

    I saw one today at a large bird feeder in a public park in Toronto, Ontario. I think its markings are beautiful & it’s a good size bird too.

  49. Sven Nater says:

    Saw three this morning in Eliot, Maine, just outside Portsmouth NH. Not an avid birdwatcher, but it is the first time I have seen them in my yard.

  50. judy green says:

    saw several in my yard this morning, never saw them before. live in newburgh ny

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