Sheri Hoffman, Broomfield Wildlife Master
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus) is a woodpecker that is 7” to 15” in length with brown, barred back and black spotted under-parts. You will
probably hear it drumming on gutters, metal pipes, or siding. The drumming
starts in early spring and usually ends by July 1. Drumming is most frequent in
early morning and late afternoon. Woodpeckers drum to establish territory,
locate a mate, search for insects, or excavate a nest site. Cedar or redwood siding,
gutters, or roof vent pipes produce loud sounds and are preferred by the
flicker. Damage can be done to stucco, plywood, Masonite, cedar, rough pine,
and redwood siding.
Flickers have a distinctive black crescent bib
and a long black bill, short legs, a stiff tail, and sharp-clawed
toes. Males have a red mustache located under each eye. Northern Flickers are easily identified
during flight by the orange tint under their wings and a white rump patch. Most woodpeckers eat insects, berries, tree
sap, and vegetable matter.
flicker damage occurs by exclusion, scare devices, preventative construction,
or a combination of all three. A
form of exclusion would be to attach cloth or plastic netting at an angle, from
the eaves to the siding, below the damaged area. Hooks or dowels can be used
for this attachment.
devices include hawk silhouettes, mirrors, plastic strips, and pinwheels. The hawk silhouette can be made of cardboard
and should have a wingspan of at least 22” and length of 11”. The silhouette
should be painted a dark color and hung from the eaves or attached to the
siding at the damaged area. It is best to place a silhouette on each side of the damaged
area. Shaving or cosmetic mirrors
located at the damaged site work to enlarge the image and frighten the
woodpecker. Plastic strips (possibly cut
from a garbage bag) should be approximately 1” wide and 2’ to 3’ long. Pinwheels
should be 12” in diameter. Both the plastic strips and the pinwheel should be
placed at the damaged spot.
construction includes prompt repair of woodpecker holes. Cover the drilled area with aluminum
flashing, tin can tops, or metal sheathing. Be sure to paint the metal to match
chemicals are effective repellants for woodpeckers. Sticky bird repellants (Tanglefoot R or
Roost-No-More R) applied to the damaged area may repel the woodpecker but may
also stain the siding in hot weather.
North American woodpeckers are cavity nesters. Noting this, another solution
would be to place a nest box on the home at or near the damaged area. Nest
boxes are worth trying when all other methods fail.
more information about flickers, call the Broomfield Wildlife Masters Hotline