Northern Flickers also perform a unique behavior called "anting". Ants secrete a natural insecticide and fungicide called formic acid. Flickers will flatten out over ant mounds, allowing the ants to crawl through their feathers. They will also apply the insects to directly to their feathers as they preen. The formic acid protects their feathers from wear caused by mites, fungus, lice and other such maladies. They get a treat and a bath all in one!
Northern Flicker in flight displaying the yellow
feathers that earned it the name "Yellowhammer".
Soon, the Huntsville soldiers were known as the "yellowhammer company." And, before long, all Alabama troops were referred to unofficially as the "Yellowhammers." Veterans would wear a yellow Northern Flicker feather in their caps or lapels during reunions to show pride.
Such a beautiful bird with a rich history. Watch for one "anting" near you.