NORTHERN FLICKER

Colaptes auratus

This brown woodpecker flashes bright colors under the wings and tail when it flies. Its ringing calls and short bursts of drumming can be heard in spring almost throughout North America. Two very different-looking forms — Yellow-shafted Flicker in the east and north, and Red-shafted Flicker in the west — were once considered separate species.

Conservation Status

Although still abundant and widespread, recent surveys indicate declines in population over much of the range since the 1960s. Introduced starlings compete with flickers for freshly excavated nesting sites, may drive the flickers away.

Habitat

Open forests, woodlots, groves, towns, semi-open country. With its wide range, from Alaska to Nicaragua, the flicker can be found in almost any habitat with trees. Tends to avoid dense unbroken forest, requiring some open ground for foraging. May be in very open country with few trees.

Diet

Mostly ants and other insects. Probably eats ants more frequently than any other North American bird. Also feeds on beetles, termites, caterpillars, and other insects. Eats many fruits and berries, especially in fall and winter, and eats seeds and nuts at times.