Attracting the northern flicker to a backyard feeder is a challenge. However, you have the best chance of doing so during the winter months.
Roughly, 75% of the northern flicker’s diet is composed of a variety of insects. As anybody that has watched a northern flicker forage for food on their lawn realizes, the bird is particularly fond of ants.
The remainder of the bird’s diet consists of a number of native fruits, berries and seeds produced by plants such as the sumac, dogwood, hackberry, pine, oak, black gum, and Virginia creeper (the bird is particularly fond of the berries produced by this vine).
It has been reported northern flickers can sometimes be attracted to feeders stocked with shelled peanuts and hulled sunflower seeds. Since animal matter makes up the majority of this large woodpecker’s diet, it should come as no surprise to learn flickers will often also dine on suet. Some folks feel hungry flickers prefer suet laced with insects, however, the truth of the matter is the birds also eat regular suet cakes.
I must confess I have never been able to attract a northern flicker to my backyard feeding area. However, from time to time, one will drink from a birdbath.
If you are looking for a challenge this winter, consider trying to attract a northern flicker to your feeders. By winter’s end, if you are successful, I suspect you will be one of an elite group of homeowners that successfully met this daunting challenge.