Northern Flicker Identification

The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    Flickers are fairly large woodpeckers with a slim, rounded head, slightly downcurved bill, and long, flared tail that tapers to a point.

    Relative Size

    About half again as big as a Hairy Woodpecker

    Relative Sizebetween robin and crowbetween robin and crow
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 11.0-12.2 in (28-31 cm)
      • Weight: 3.9-5.6 oz (110-160 g)
      • Wingspan: 16.5-20.1 in (42-51 cm)

Regional Differences

North America has two easily distinguished races of Northern Flickers: the yellow-shafted form of the East, which occurs into Texas and the Great Plains, and the red-shafted form of the West. The key difference is the color of the flight-feather shafts, which are either a lemon yellow or a rosy red. Yellow-shafted forms have tan faces and gray crowns, and a red crescent on the nape. Males have a black mustache stripe. Red-shafted forms have a gray face, brown crown, and no nape crescent, with males showing a red mustache stripe. Hybrids look intermediate and are common at the edges of these two groups’ ranges.