Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Gilded Flicker

Colaptes chrysoides

In its color pattern, this bird combines some elements from both the Yellow-shafted and Red-shafted forms of Northern Flicker. However, it is slightly smaller than either, and it lives in the lowlands of the southwest -- mainly in the desert, where it nests in holes in giant saguaro cactus. In a few places, Gilded Flickers overlap in breeding range with Red-shafted Flickers at middle elevations (Sonoita Creek near Patagonia, Arizona, is one good example). In such places, the Red-shafted and Gilded flickers interbreed freely, producing a summer population that is nearly all hybrids.
Conservation status Still fairly common, but vulnerable to loss of habitat.
Family Woodpeckers
Habitat Deserts, riverside groves. Common in Sonoran desert, where it nests in holes in giant saguaro cactus. Also found in groves of cottonwoods and other trees along rivers and streams at low elevations.
In its color pattern, this bird combines some elements from both the Yellow-shafted and Red-shafted forms of Northern Flicker. However, it is slightly smaller than either, and it lives in the lowlands of the southwest -- mainly in the desert, where it nests in holes in giant saguaro cactus. In a few places, Gilded Flickers overlap in breeding range with Red-shafted Flickers at middle elevations (Sonoita Creek near Patagonia, Arizona, is one good example). In such places, the Red-shafted and Gilded flickers interbreed freely, producing a summer population that is nearly all hybrids.
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Feeding Behavior

Forages by hopping on ground, climbing tree trunks and cacti, occasionally flying out to catch insects in the air.


Eggs

Usually 4-5. White. Incubation is by both sexes (with male incubating at night and part of day), about 11 days. Young: Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. Young leave nest about 4 weeks after hatching, are fed by parents at first, later following them to good foraging sites. Generally 1 brood per year.


Young

Both parents feed young, by regurgitation. Young leave nest about 4 weeks after hatching, are fed by parents at first, later following them to good foraging sites. Generally 1 brood per year.

Diet

Mostly ants and other insects. Unlike most birds (but like other flickers and several other woodpeckers), eats many ants. Also feeds on beetles, termites, caterpillars, and other insects. Eats many fruits and berries, and eats seeds and nuts at times.


Nesting

Males defend nesting territory with calling, drumming, and many aggressive displays, including swinging head back and forth, flicking wings open and spreading tail to show off bright underside. Courtship displays mostly similar. Nest site is cavity in giant cactus, tree, or post. Tree cavities usually in dead wood. Cavity excavated by both sexes, typically 6-20' above ground, sometimes higher.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Essentially a permanent resident, with only local movements.

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Migration

Essentially a permanent resident, with only local movements.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A loud, repeated woika; also a loud series of kee notes.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Gilded Flicker

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate threats facing the Gilded Flicker

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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