See 6 baby woodpeckers rescued by Wildlife Resource Center

  • The 2-week-old baby northern flickers are developing pin feathers, the first stage of normal feather growth.

    The 2-week-old baby northern flickers are developing pin feathers, the first stage of normal feather growth. Courtesy of Sara Denham

 
By Sara Denham
MCCD Wildlife Resource Center Manager
Updated 8/21/2020 8:07 PM

McHenry County Conservation District's Wildlife Resource Center recently released six young northern flickers that had been in their care since mid-June.

The baby flicker's nest was in a tree deemed as a hazard and was cut down.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Luckily, the Lake in the Hills homeowners discovered the nest and contacted the District's Wildlife Resource Center staff who were able to take in and care for the less-than-a-week old baby birds.

These six northern flickers, less than a week old, born without feathers and eyes closed, are completely dependent on parental care.
These six northern flickers, less than a week old, born without feathers and eyes closed, are completely dependent on parental care. - Courtesy of Sara Denham

"Once we had northern flickers, which are a species of woodpecker, at the Wildlife Resource Center, we were able to create a nest box similar to the shape and size of their original nesting cavity. The birds were then hand-fed a specialized diet designed for their species," said Beth Gunderson, Wildlife Resource Center specialist.

The six northern flicker siblings, clustering together in a cardboard box, are about 3 1/2 weeks old.
The six northern flicker siblings, clustering together in a cardboard box, are about 3 1/2 weeks old. - Courtesy of Sara Denham
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"Once the birds were ready to fledge, they were moved to an outdoor enclosure to allow them to strengthen their flying muscles and learn to forage for themselves. We celebrated when we were able to successfully release all six young woodpeckers at the end of July!," Gunderson said.

Northern flickers are medium-sized woodpeckers that are a common bird in Illinois that are identified by their white rump, the black crescent on their upper chest, and their yellow feather shafts.

A young northern flicker learns how to forage and work on flying in an outdoor enclosure. In late July, the birds were ready to be released into the world.
A young northern flicker learns how to forage and work on flying in an outdoor enclosure. In late July, the birds were ready to be released into the world. - Courtesy of Sara Denham

Unlike other woodpeckers, flickers spend a lot of time on the ground where they forage for insects, especially ants and beetles.

They use their beak to pound into the ground to access ant colonies and eat the larva.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Fun fact: They can stick their tongue about two inches past the tip of their beak. One of their nicknames is yellowhammer!

McHenry County Conservation District's Wildlife Resource Center staff is involved with the captive rearing of select wildlife species and wildlife rehabilitation with an emphasis on species of conservation concern, such as the endangered Blanding's turtle, orangethroat darter, barn owl, and green snake.

The center is located in Grundstrom Woods, north of Wonder Lake.

Staff also present numerous wildlife education and outreach programs, as well as field many questions and concerns from residents about our local wildlife.

To learn more about the Wildlife Resource Center, contact (815) 728-8307 or Wildlife@MCCDistrict.org, or visit www.mccdistrict.org.

For more on "Living With Wildlife," visit www.mccdistrict.org/learn___experience/discover_nature/.

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