Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus

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It is estimated that this beautiful woodpecker has over one hundred common names, although it is most often known as a “Red-shafted Flicker” to differentiate it from the Eastern or “Yellow-shafted Flicker” that lives in the eastern part of North America. The bird has stunning plumage in both color and pattern. They have a brown back covered with dark bars and spots, a buff-colored chest with black spots and dull pink wing linings. The males will also have red “mustaches” at the base of their bills.

Like other flickers, these birds primarily forage for food on the ground among brush and in wooded areas. They can eat a variety of items, but insects account for most of their diet. They will sometimes nest on the ground as well so they can be close to their food sources.

Range and Habitat

The Northern Flicker is found all across the western half of North America. In the Great Plains area, the Northern and Eastern Flickers will often mix and interbreed.

Conservation Status

The population of Northern Flickers has declined over the past few decades, possibly due to destruction of habitat and competition with other birds for nesting area. Still, they are not current considered threatened.