Northern Flicker (Colaptes Auratus)

The Northern Flicker is a medium sized woodpecker 28-36 cm (11-14 in) in length and has a wingspan of 42-54 cm (17-21 in).  Flickers can be found over much of North America and parts of Central America.  There are two subspecies: the yellow shafted subspecies is found in the east, while the red shafted subspecies is found in the west.

The Northern Flicker is a sleek tan bird with black spotting on the breast and black barring on its back.  Both males and females have distinctive black bibs.  The males have a bright red bar on the nape of the neck and a black mustache, while the female's heads are tan overall.  In flight, a white rump is a distinctive marking.  Perhaps the most striking feature of the Northern Flicker in this region is the bright yellow underwing and tail that can be seen in flight. Their Latin name Auratus comes from the Latin root meaning gold or golden.

Flickers are one of the few woodpecker species that migrates south over the winter, so start looking for them in the spring when their laughing call, a high ki ki ki ki, can be heard along forest edges and open forest habitat.  Flickers are often seen feeding on the ground, breaking into ant colonies, which makes them a fairly accessible bird to get a good look at.  They also will frequent suet feeders.  Like many woodpecker species, Flickers will rely on dead standing trees both for the insects found in the wood as well as for creating their nesting holes.

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