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Northern Flicker

Colaptes auratus ORDER: PICIFORMES FAMILY: PICIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Northern Flickers are large, brown woodpeckers with a gentle expression and handsome black-scalloped plumage. On walks, don’t be surprised if you scare one up from the ground. It’s not where you’d expect to find a woodpecker, but flickers eat mainly ants and beetles, digging for them with their unusual, slightly curved bill. When they fly you’ll see a flash of color in the wings – yellow if you’re in the East, red if you’re in the West – and a bright white flash on the rump.

ML Essential Set
Optics Planet birding kit

Backyard Tips

Northern Flickers don’t habitually visit bird feeders, but you can find them in backyards and at bird baths. If your backyard has a mixture of trees and open ground, or if it’s near woods, you may find Northern Flickers simply by walking around the wooded edges.

Find This Bird

To find Northern Flickers, try walking through open woods or forest edges, but scan the ground. You may flush a flicker from a feeding spot up into a nearby tree. Look for the obvious white rump patch in flight. Also, be sure to listen for their loud, ringing call and their piercing yelp. In late summer, listen for the incessant yammering of hungry nestlings to find a nest.

Get Involved

Watch your feeders in winter and report your counts of birds to Project FeederWatch

Report your Northern Flicker sightings to eBird

Are you watching Northern Flickers in a city? Participate in art, cultural, and science activities through Celebrate Urban Birds!

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When Flickers Bicker: A letter from a BirdScope reader

Explore sounds and video of Northern Flickers from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library archive