Northern Flickers Courtship Display


I caught sight of an odd display going on between a pair of Northern Flickers on the ground that I’d not seen before.  As I started photographing, the female took flight up to a tree branch and the male followed her.

It was time to take it to the trees!


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Northern Flicker Pair (Red-shafted)


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What I was seeing was the courtship of Northern Flickers.  With a little dance in time while nodding, bowing and swaying, they suddenly freeze with bills pointed upward and stay that way for several seconds.

This is the same ritual that goes on when two male rivals face off while a prospective mate looks on, sometimes called a “fencing duel.”


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Northern Flickers (male on right with his red ‘mustache’)


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As always with birds, it’s over as quickly as it begins.

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The female took flight again, and the male followed.  He wasn’t giving up!


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47 thoughts on “Northern Flickers Courtship Display

  1. We both enjoyed looking at this bird, it is just beautiful, and what a lovely sequence of shots Donna as they do their courtship dance. Great captures of bird we never see down here.

    • Thank you, Ashley! I am surely blessed with some of my sightings and the ability to capture the moment(s) to share. This is a stunning woodpecker, and I so thankful to have seen so many of the ‘red-shafted’ variety this past couple months, since at home we have the yellow-shafted. 🙂 You’ll both like the next post too with more flicker action. 😉

  2. Oh, they are gorgeous. What an exciting thing to see and photograph!! I hope she sees his potential and the courtship/dance goes well so there will be more Northern Flickers in the not too distant future. 😀

  3. Donna, you sure don’t miss a thing, do you? What a fun thing to witness, and you did a great job of capturing all of their mating ritual, or whatever it was!

    • Thank you, Simon! I actually took these photos in early July and wondered your question myself. I googled and read that depending on the region, some NFs have two broods a season, with the start of the second mating late June/early July. I think I found a pair working on #2! 😉

  4. We don’t see this sight too often in nature, making this a really spectacular series, Donna. Fascinating to see their mating dance. How fortunate that you captured it, and lovely to be able to share it.

    • Thank you, Jet! They were truly fun, I felt like I was spying……ha, I guess I was! 😉 Seriously, it was a thrill to see this, now I need to capture our yellow-shafted doing this ritual back home.

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