Northern "Gilded" Flicker
Description 12" A large brownish
woodpecker. Brown back with dark bars and
spots; whitish or buff below with black spots;
black crescent on breast; white rump and
yellow underwings visible in flight. Face and
throat pale gray; male has red mustache.
Habitat Saguaro deserts, cottonwood-lined
Diet Northern Flickers feed principally on
ants but also take other insects and some
fruit, seeds, and berries.
Nesting 6-8 white eggs are laid in a tree or
cactus cavity, utility pole, or birdhouse. Males
do most of the excavation with some help
Both incubate the eggs for about 11 days,
then brood the newly hatched young for about
4 days more. Both sexes feed the young,
which leave the nest after 24 to 27 days.
The parents continue to feed the young once
they fledge, and soon the young begin to
follow the adults to foraging sites and gather
their own food.
Range Resident from southeastern
California and central Arizona south into
Mexico. Northern Flickers are partially
Voice A loud, repeated woika; also a loud
series of kee notes.
Discussion The Gilded Flicker was until
recently considered a subspecies of the
widespread Northern Flicker. The ice ages
separated the ancestral flickers, keeping
them scattered in several refugia for
thousands of years. Today those barriers are
The Gilded has become adapted to the
desert, whereas the two northern populations
inhabit woodland habitat, with only the
treeless Great Plains keeping them
somewhat apart. All three forms interbreed
where their ranges come together, and
numerous confusing intermediates can be
Flicker (above) ground feeding with a mourning dove (below).