Northern Flicker ( Colaptes auratus)
Description: 12″ (30 cm) 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.
Voice: Northern Flickers make a loud, rolling rattle with a piercing tone that rises and falls in volume several times. The call lasts 7 or 8 seconds and is quite similar to the call of the Pileated Woodpecker. You’ll hear it in the spring and early summer, while pairs are forming and birds are establishing their territories. Flickers also make a loud single-note call, often sounding like kyeer, about a half-second long. When birds are close together and displaying they may make a quiet, rhythmic wick-a, wick-a call.
Habitat: Look for Northern Flickers in open habitats near trees, woodlands, edges, yards and parks.
Nesting: 5-8 all white eggs are laid generally in nests in tree holes like other woodpeckers. Occasionally they’ve been found nesting in old, earthen burrows vacated by Belted Kingfishers, and Bank Swallows.
FYI’s:Although they can climb trees and hammer on wood like a woodpecker, they prefer to find food on the ground. Ants are their main food source. You might hear people refer to them as “Ground Woodpeckers”.
The Northern Flicker is one of the few woodpeckers that is strongly migratory.
The red-shafted and the yellow-shafted forms of the Northern Flicker were once considered different species.
Resource material provided by:
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology/ http://www.allaboutbirds.com