Northern Flicker

(Colaptes auratus)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

Northern Flicker

NatureServe

N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common to abundant migrant and breeder

Habitat

Open woodlands and forest edges, fields, and meadows; swamps in winter

Size

12½ to 13 in length

20 wingspan

     
 

 

  Photo by Bill Reynolds

Identification

This is a common large woodpecker. Adults average 12½ to 13 in length with a 20 wingspan.

The body and wings are grayish-brown. The wings and back are barred. The tail is black on the top. The underside of the wings and tail are yellow. The rump, only visible in flight, is white. The breast and belly are buff to whitish and are heavily covered with black spots. The breast has a large black crescent.

The crown and the nape of the neck are gray. There is a bright red crescent on the nape of the neck. The chin and throat are tan. The face is brownish to buff. The male has a prominent black mark behind the bill usually described as a “mustache stripe.” The bill is long.

 
Voice

The song is a loud and rapid wick-wick-wick-wick-wick-wick.

 
Similar
Species

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) is similar in size and shape but not in coloration. When flying away it does not show a white rump.


Food

Mostly ants found on the ground. Also other insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, termites, wasps, aphids, beetles, beetle larvae, and caterpillars; spiders, In late fall and early spring they also eat cherries; berries, including dogwood, Virginia creeper, poison ivy, sumac, and hackberry; and nuts, including acorns. Overwintering individuals regularly visit suet feeders.

 
Nesting

Between February and July the male and female join together and excavate a new nest usually in a dead or dying deciduous tree, sometimes in a telephone pole or fence post. Less commonly, they will repair and reuse an existing cavity or use a birdhouse. Excavation takes about 2 weeks. The female lays 5 to 8 large, glossy white eggs. Both sexes incubate the eggs for 11 to 16 days, and after hatching, both sexes feed the young. Fledglings leave the nest 25 to 28 days after hatching.

 
Migration

Late February to late November


Comments

Identification
This bird is often seen flying away from the observer, making it impossible to see the head and neck markings. In these situations the white rump, conspicuous in flight, is the most useful identification mark.

Taxonony
In 1995 the American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU) split the Northern Flicker into two species, Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) and Gilded Flicker (Colaptes chrysoides).

Subspecies
Some authorities, including the International Ornithologists’ Union (IOU), recognize ten subspecies (nine extant, one extinct). In this classification, Yellow Shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus luteus) is the only subspecies found in Minnesota. Other authorities recognize only two subspecies. In this classification, Yellow Shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus auratus) is the only subspecies found in Minnesota.


Taxonomy

Order:

Piciformes (woodpeckers and relatives)

 

Family:

Picidae (woodpeckers)

 

Genus:

Colaptes (flickers)

 

Species:

Colaptes (flickers)

 

Group:

auratus (Yellow Shafted Flicker)

 
Subordinate Taxa

auratus group (Yellow Shafted Flicker)

Colaptes auratus auratus

Colaptes auratus luteus

 

cafer group (Red Shafted Flicker)

Colaptes auratus cafer

Colaptes auratus collaris

Colaptes auratus mexicanus

Colaptes auratus nanus

Colaptes auratus rufipileus (Guadalupe Flicker [extinct])

 

chrysocaulosus group (Cuban Flicker)

Colaptes auratus chrysocaulosus

Colaptes auratus gundlachi

 

mexicanoides group (Guatemalan Flicker)

Colaptes auratus mexicanoides

 
Common
Names

Northern Flicker

Yellow Shafted Flicker


 

 

 

 

 

       

Visitor Photos

   
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Wayne Rasmussen


Northern Flicker (Yellowtail) at Breezy Point Resort 2011. Seen on the point north of the resort on Pelican Lake.

  Northern Flicker    

Bill Reynolds


  Northern Flicker    

       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   
       
       

 

Camera

     

Slideshows

   
  Northern Flicker
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
 
  Northern Flicker  
     
  Yellow-shafted Flicker
JMC Nature Photos
 
  Yellow-shafted Flicker  
     
  Northern Flicker
Craig A. Mullenbach
 
  Northern Flicker  

 

slideshow

     

Visitor Videos

   
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Other Videos

 
  Northern Yellow-shafted Flicker Colaptes Auratus Auratus: Chicks Feed, Fly from Nest
Derek Grant
 
   
 
About

Published on Dec 2, 2013

This short video documents the lives of Northern (Yellow-Shafted) Flicker family over a 2 month period. Northern Flickers are ant eating woodpeckers that have a strong preference for nesting in tree cavities. Key Points: the stll at ~1:45 is a rare capture of the pair mating on a branch. The still at ~1:50 is an important part in the fledging process where the parent arrives at the nest to feed it's chicks and only feigns the feeding in hopes of luring it into leaving it's friendly confines. This causes the chicks to react aggressively in the midst of their hunger pang and the resultant a good peck to the stomach of the parent. If you look closely @ 7:33 and just after the chick's seventh chirp - you will see it fly from the nest. The still immediately following is of another chick leaving the nest.

 
     
  Yellow Shafted Flicker Tongue Action
seahue
 
   
 
About

Published on Feb 23, 2011

It's amazing what happens when you slow down the movie (50X); one can see the tongue...

Guest starring the tufted titmouse who demonstrates how to eat with ones feet...

 
     
  Yellow Shafted Flicker
Dean Martin
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 23, 2009

Feeding her young ones. Taken in my back yard

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this bird.

Kim Gustafson
10/29/2016

Location: Eagan, MN

My first sighting of a Northern Flicker!  He was eating "hearts and parts" bird seed out of my Squirrel Buster Plus feeder.


Holly G
9/16/2016

Location: Middle Rice Creek in New Brighton MN


Wayne Rasmussen
5/3/2011

Location: Breezy Point Resort, Crow Wing County

Northern Flicker (Yellowtail) at Breezy Point Resort 2011. Seen on the point north of the resort on Pelican Lake.

Northern Flicker


     
     
 

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