Flickers (Subgenus Colaptes)


Flickers are slender woodpeckers that occur all over the Americas except in polar regions.

They have one-colored crowns and are generally more terrestrial (living closer to the ground) than other woodpecker species.

Subgenus Colaptes – Typical flickers

 Most have brown or greenbacks, wings with black barring, and colorful markings on the head. The underside ranges from beige to yellowish, with black spotting or barring.

The most famous member of this genus is the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) – known in parts of the American South as the ‘Yellowhammer’. It is the state bird of Alabama and the state’s nickname is the ‘Yellowhammer State’.

Northern Flickers Feeding On The Ground
Northern Flickers Feeding On The Ground
  • Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus. The binomen (species name) means “gilt” (gilded).
    • Yellow-shafted Flicker, Colaptes (auratus) auratus
    • Red-shafted Flicker, Colaptes (auratus) cafer
    • Caribbean Flicker, Colaptes (auratus) chrysocaulosus
    • Guadalupe Flicker, Colaptes auratus/cafer rufipileus – extinct (c.1910)
  • Gilded Flicker, Colaptes chrysoides. The species name chrysoides means “like gold”.
  • Fernandina’s Flicker, Colaptes fernandinae, an endangered bird native to Cuba. Fernandina was an early name for Cuba.
  • Chilean Flicker, Colaptes pitius. The species name derives from the bird’s characteristic call, which is “pitiu-pitiu-pitiu”.
  • Andean Flicker, Colaptes rupicola, found in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. rupicola is Latin for “rock-dweller”.
  • Campo Flicker, Colaptes campestris. The species name campestris is Latin for “of the fields” and refers to the species’ favorite habitat, open grassland.
    Yellow-shafted Flickers Standing In Snow
    Yellow-shafted Flickers Standing In Snow

Subgenus Chrysoptilus – Forest Flickers

  • Black-necked Woodpecker, Colaptes atricollis – named for their dark necks
  • Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Colaptes punctigula – named for their spotted throat.
  • Green-barred Woodpecker, Colaptes melanochloros
    • Golden-breasted Woodpecker, Colaptes (melanochloros) melanolaimus
  • Golden-olive Woodpecker, Colaptes rubiginosus (formerly in Piculus)
  • Grey-crowned Woodpecker, Colaptes auricularis
  • Bronze-winged Woodpecker, Colaptes aeruginosus
  • Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Colaptes rivolii (formerly in Piculus)
Members of the Picidae Family: Sapsuckers

Woodpeckers in your Yard: Building A Home for Northern Flickers … What to do when Woodpeckers become a problem


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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