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threatened and/or endangered

Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus


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Northern Flicker
credit: Nature's Pic's /CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Alternate name: Yellow-shafted Flicker

Family: Picidae, Woodpeckers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has golden brown back and upper wing coverts, both with black barring; rump is white and tail is black. Head is grayish overall with buffish forecrown; "Yellow-shafted" has extensive buff on face, black malar stripe, and red nape patch ("Red-shafted" has red malar stripe). Note striking black crescent on chest and dark-spotted whitish underparts. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but head lacks malar stripe; "Yellow-shafted" has red nape patch. JUVENILE Similar to respective sex adult.

Dimensions Length: 12" (30 cm)

Habitat "Yellow-shafted" is common in all kinds of wooded habitats; mainly resident but northern populations are migratory. "Red-shafted" is widespread in west.

Observation Tips Easy to see.

Range Northwest, Western Canada, New England, California, Great Lakes, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Eastern Canada, Plains, Florida, Alaska, Southeast, Southwest, Mid-Atlantic

Voice Utters a rapid, raptorlike kew-kew-kewÖ.

Discussion Familiar and well-marked medium-sized woodpecker. Variation exists in wing color and two forms are recognized and separated geographically, although hybrid intermediates occur in zone of overlap. "Yellow-shafted" Flicker (the one seen in range covered by this book) has yellow flight feather shafts and flush of same color on underwing coverts. In "Red-shafted," these elements of plumage are reddish pink. Excavates nest holes in trees and feeds on wood-boring insects and ants, sometimes on ground. Sexes are dissimilar.