Northern Flicker

This unusual woodpecker is often seen on the ground, searching for ants and licking them up with its long tongue. Northern Flickers do nest in holes in trees, or tree substitutes such as telephone poles.


Northern Flicker
Roland Jordahl
Northern Flicker
Michael R. Duncan
Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker, nestlings


Northern FlickerMichael R. Duncan
Michael R. Duncan Northern Flicker

Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus.
Family: Woodpecker.
Length: 13 inches.
Wingspan: 20 inches.
Distinctive Markings: Eastern and western males sport black and red “mustaches,” respectively. The mustache is not present on the female. For eastern birds (also called “yellow-shafted”), the wings and tail include yellow feathers; in the west, feathers are red (thus, these are called “red-shafted”).
Nest: Pair works together to excavate a nesting cavity in a dead tree, utility pole or fence post. The female lays six to eight white eggs inside.
Voice: “Flicka, flicka.” Also a loud “wick, wick, klee.”
Habitat:  Forests, open woodlands, river groves, backyards.
Diet: Insects, berries and weed seeds.
Backyard Favorites: Birdbaths and birdhouses high above the ground.

Bird Song & Range Map

Listen to the Northern Flicker’s song and learn where to spot them!

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Northern Flicker Bird SpeciesRange maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.