Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus Scientific name definitions

Karen L. Wiebe and William S. Moore
Version: 2.0 — Published July 7, 2023

Priorities for Future Research


Basic information is lacking for nearly all aspects of life history and demography for subspecies on Cuba, Grand Cayman Island, Mexico, and Central America. The long-term study in British Columbia has provided detailed demographic and life history data for western North America (among Red-shafted and hybrid subspecies), but such data are still sparse for Yellow-shafted Flickers in the East. For example, it is still unknown whether conspecific egg parasitism and polyandry occur in populations outside British Columbia. Movements, survival rates, and migration patterns of juveniles after independence are a stage of the life history that is largely unknown anywhere.

Morphological variation among subspecies is well documented, but genetic studies are needed to better understand how this phenotypic variation is controlled at the genomic level and to understand patterns of gene flow relating to speciation. Mapping of migration routes and natal dispersal distances would also improve our understanding of gene flow and the maintenance of hybrid zones.

The reasons behind the decline of some populations of the Northern Flicker, as indicated by long-term data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, are not well understood. Research is needed into potential effects of competition for cavities and habitat change in a variety of geographic locations.

Recommended Citation

Wiebe, K. L. and W. S. Moore (2023). Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.norfli.02