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Janet Kidd

Ladner, Delta, BC, Canada


this woodpecker looks like a northern flicker but is very very dark. At first we thought it was a starling, but he is bigger and has the woodpecker beak. We can identify the black shield shape on his chest and mottling of his breast feathers. There is red at sides of beak and a few red feathers under his tail. We can not find any description/pictures of such a dark flicker on the net. The other northern flickers intimidate him and he usually eats from the feeder when others aren’t around. We have video of him eating from the patio floor right at our backdoor. Is it usual to be this dark?


Very Dark Northern Flicker?

Very dark 'northern flicker'

6 replies on “very dark northern flicker?”

Carole Newkumet says:

I just saw this bird today. It has a white back when it fly’s away.
what is it?

Holly Faulkner, Project Assistant says:

Hi Carole, This bird is a Northern Flicker, likely with a condition called Melanism. Melanism occurs when there is excessive deposition of the melanin pigment in the bird’s feathers. It’s similar to Leucism and Albinism, which are conditions describing the absence of pigment, though melanism occurs much less often. You can learn more about color variance in birds here.

David Rieger says:

Just saw a very similar bird at my back porch feeder. Looks just like a flicker but black with the white under its tail. Very interesting.

Chquirrel says:

There was a rather dark flicker at my feeder yesterday afternoon (coastal Massachusetts), but it still had bright red at the back of its head

Ray Pawley says:

This AM, in Arabela (Lincoln Cnty), NM, I saw, for the first time, a VERY dark Flicker. We expect it will come to our feeder a few feet from our window where we should get a closer look. It is the earliest a Flicker has arrived here, and usually the Fall and Winter numbers are about 10-12 Red-shafteds. While most of the Flickers are acclimated migrants accustomed to our place (and move right in), we might see more strangers this year due to wildfires in Canada.

Phoebe says:

I saw a similar bird in Seattle, October. In a blue spruce tree. Dark black/brown back, head, wings, neck and stomach, but bright white leg feathers, breaches, with black polka dotts.

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