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Breeding Birds: Northern Flicker

September 08, 1989|Clipboard researched by Kathie Bozanich, Janice L. Jones and Rick VanderKnyff / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Thomas Penix / Los Angeles Times


(Colaptes auratus)

Description: This member of the woodpecker family has a brown barred back and spotted underparts with a black crescent bib; white rump is conspicuous in flight. Males have a red mustache-like stripe.

Habitat: Common in open woodlands and suburban areas.

Diet: Primarily gleans insects from tree trunk and branches; also occasionally gleans ants from the ground.

Display: Courtship displays are noisy and active, with calling, drumming, wing and tail flashing, billing and bobbing while pair

face each other.

Nest: Builds nest in variety of cavities, especially trees but also posts, poles, houses, banks and boxes.

Eggs: White and unmarked, 1.1 inches long.

Natural history notes: Of the woodpeckers, the northern flicker is the most likely to stray from nesting areas after the breeding season, and can be seen in winter throughout the county, sometimes in family groups. The form seen in Orange County is the red-shafted; the gilded form, found in the Southwest, and the yellow-shafted, found east of the Rockies, are rarely spotted in the county.

Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas (now in its fifth and final year), call Sea and Sage Audubon Society members Sylvia Gallagher, (714) 962-8990, or Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

Indicates 5-kilometer-square areas where breeding activity has been confirmed.

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