Male Northern Flicker in its nesting cavity

Northern Flicker in its nestNorthern Flicker in its nest

I was photographing some Pine Siskins along a road in Madison County, Montana when this male Red-shafted Northern Flicker stuck his head out of his nesting cavity and surprised us. I haven’t had much luck photographing this species primarily because I don’t bait or call birds into view so I was tickled to get a series of this bird as he poked his head out of the nest and a few more when he returned to the nest a while later. This Aspen was also being used by Tree Swallows in another cavity below this one.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. I am lucky to have these beautiful birds in my area. The Red-shafted are common here, I have only seen the Yellow-shafted once and it was here in Colorado.
    Striking photo!

  2. Very nice photo Mia! I’ve seen many out here in Northern California the past 7 months. This spring I was lucky enough to have a pair that nested in a tree in my backyard. It was neat to watch them daily. They only stayed for about a month. They must’ve migrated onward after that? Is that what the species normally does in North America? I am still very new to birding, but I really do enjoy it and find myself more and more passionate about it daily. The learning experience is what also makes it so wonderful. I keep reading in your captions and comments that you don’t bait or call birds. Does this happen often by photographers? I’ve never even thought about doing something like that! You bring it up, so it must be done more frequently than I am aware?

    Anyhow, I really love your photography, captions, writing, knowledge, experience and enthusiasm. It is contagious. Thank you for being a positive influence to all those that share your passion and love for nature!


    John Fox

    • John, it must have been amazing to be able to watch the nesting Northern Flickers in your yard as they raised their young. According to the range map for Flickers they should be in your area year round but they may move to other locations because of available food sources. I know they are around my home year round in Utah. Birds & bird photography are addictive, I feel I can never get enough!

      Baiting does happen John, unfortunately it can also cost the lives of some birds. I’m not talking about backyard feeders of course but people who bring bait to entice birds to come closer. People will often bait owls and that has caused mortality in them especially when they bait the birds near roads. Here there is a location famous for Bald eagles in the winter and this past winter people were bringing in chickens and turkeys to bait them and other raptors in the area despite having plenty of fish for the Eagles available because of the yearly kill off of invasive carp. People were even bringing in photogenic perches. I didn’t photograph the eagles this past winter because it made me ill to watch the baiting going on. Some pros who offer workshops will bait birds to make sure their clients have birds in front of them, even wading birds. My personal ethics regarding wildlife & my photography is that I never bait, don’t use calls, decoys or set ups and my best images & memories come from my subjects being where they want to be doing what comes naturally to them.

      Baiting is done very frequently but not by me.

      Thanks for your wonderful comment, I do hope that my images and thoughts inspire people to “get out there!” and enjoy nature.

  3. These birds are new to me, thanks for introducing.

  4. Helloooo, handsome! Gorgeous, charming shot. =)

  5. This is gorgeous. Your photos (and Ron’s) brighten my days. Thank you.

  6. Wow! Beautiful bird, great image and so much nicer to look at knowing that you didn’t stress it with calls :)

    • Kim,

      It is important to me to always treat my subjects with respect and playing calls doesn’t feel very respectful to me, especially during nesting season. Thanks so much for your comment.

  7. ohh, it s a beautifull bird, i like how you have done this picture, just at the exit of the nest, excellent capture, bravo mia ☺

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