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Northern Flicker – Reflections of the Pure World


Colaptes auratus

By Jim Acquire


Study 100 Birds is a photograph weblog sequence highlighting 100 frequent chook species present in California’s Central Valley.

Publish #8 within the Study 100 Widespread Valley Birds sequence. (Species 13/100.)

Widespread Yr-round Resident


The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is a medium-sized chook of the woodpecker household. It’s native to most of North America, elements of Central America, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands, and is among the few woodpecker species that migrate.

Crimson shafted Feminine Northern Flicker

In accordance with the Audubon area information, “sparkles are the one woodpeckers that often feed on the bottom”, probing with their beak, additionally generally catching bugs in flight. Though they eat fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts, their main meals is bugs. Ants alone could make up 45% of their weight loss program. Glints additionally eat berries and seeds, particularly in winter, together with poison oak, grape, and elderberries, in addition to sunflower and thistle seeds. Glints usually break into underground ant colonies to get on the nutritious larvae there, hammering on the soil the best way different woodpeckers drill into wooden. One flicker’s abdomen was discovered to include greater than 5,000 ants!

LEFT Male | RIGHT Feminine “Crimson-shafted” Northern Flicker

In addition to consuming ants, sparkles exhibit a conduct often known as anting, wherein they use the formic acid from the ants to help in preening, as it’s helpful in preserving them freed from parasites.

Crimson shafted Male Northern Flicker


This brownish-gray woodpecker, bigger than an American Robin, has a black-barred again and is spangled beneath with black polka-dots. Simply acknowledged because it springs into flight, the glint flashes a big white rump patch and vibrant red-colored wing linings and tail feather shafts.

Feminine Crimson shafted Northern Flicker


The Northern Flicker is essentially the most widespread woodpecker species in North America, discovered from the northern treeline south by way of the decrease 48 U.S. states into Mexico, reaching into Central America as far south as northern Nicaragua. It is usually present in Cuba.

Sub-Species and Intergrades

Ten subspecies of northern flicker are acknowledged with 4 sub-species within the “Yellow-shafted” type and the opposite 6 being within the “Crimson-shafted” type. At one time these two main kinds had been thought of two separate species referred to as the yellow-shafted flicker (C. auratus) and the red-shafted flicker (C. cafer). However they generally interbreed the place their ranges overlap and are actually thought of one species by the American Ornithologists Union. The overwhelming majority of Northern Glints noticed within the Central Valley are of the “Crimson-shafted” type.

Yellow shafted Male Northern Flicker
Yellow shafted Feminine Northern Flicker

COOL FACT – Story of a Tongue

The tongues of most woodpeckers are tailored to spear and extract bugs from wooden, however the flicker’s tongue is a bit completely different — in methods advantageous for lapping up giant numbers of ants.

All woodpeckers have an elongated tongue connected to an association of bones, cartilage, and muscle tissue often known as the hyoid equipment, which wraps across the chook’s cranium, ending close to the rear of its eye sockets. The Northern Flicker has an extra-long tongue that may lengthen as much as two inches previous the tip of its beak. It’s the right software for probing into anthills. This prolonged tongue is supported by an elongated hyoid bone, which extends into the chook’s higher mandible.

Northern Flicker by Ken Griffiths, Shutterstock

Earlier posts from the Study 100 Widespread Valley Birds sequence,




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