Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus

Closely resembling the Gilded Flicker, we can find Northern Flickers over most of North America and central Mexico. However, they rarely occupy the same territory with its ‘Gilded’ relative. Eastern Northern Flickers have yellow shafts on their feathers, while western birds have red or orange shafts.

Northern Flickers are woodpeckers that frequently forage on the ground. Ants make up almost half of their diet. There are reports of a slight decline in populations. Observers believe the cause of the decline is due to the invasions of European Starlings, who out-compete most other native birds for cavity nesting.

Science recognised ten subspecies of Northern Flickers. Some subspecies designations are regionally separated, and some have differing outward features, such as red or yellow feather shafts. One subspecies, the Guadalupe Red-Shafted Flicker (C. a. rufipileus) is now extinct.

The Northern Flickers I’ve met have, so far, been in Western North America from as far north as Canada’s provinces of British Colombia and Alberta, and as far south as Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico. This species ranges in summer into most of Canada and Alaska, but are year-round residents in most of the USA, parts of Mexico and on islands of the Caribbean such as Cuba. The desert southwest and most of Texas host these birds only in the winter.


      Northern Flicker KeeYer Call

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