Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) - HBW 7, p. 513

French: Pic flamboyant German: Goldspecht Spanish: Carpintero Escapulario
Other common names: Common Flicker; Yellow-shafted Flicker (auratus group); Red-shafted Flicker (cafer group); Cuban Flicker (chrysocaulosus group); Guatemalan Flicker (mexicanoides group)

Taxonomy: Cuculus auratus Linnaeus, 1758, South Carolina.
Forms a superspecies with C. chrysoides; sometimes treated as conspecific but, although SW populations not significantly different genetically from that species, hybridization is very limited (in C & S Arizona), with moderate ecological separation too, and the two are better regarded as allospecies. Races commonly divided into four geographical groups, each considered a separate species in the past: “auratus group” (which includes luteus) in N & E North America, with yellow flight-feather shafts; “cafer group” (also including collaris, mex.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Cuculus auratus Linnaeus, 1758, South Carolina.
Forms a superspecies with C. chrysoides; sometimes treated as conspecific but, although SW populations not significantly different genetically from that species, hybridization is very limited (in C & S Arizona), with moderate ecological separation too, and the two are better regarded as allospecies. Races commonly divided into four geographical groups, each considered a separate species in the past: “auratus group” (which includes luteus) in N & E North America, with yellow flight-feather shafts; “cafer group” (also including collaris, mexicanus, nanus and extinct rufipileus) in W North America and Mexico, with red shafts; “mexicanoides group” in highlands from S Mexico to Nicaragua; and geographically isolated “chrysocaulosus group” (with gundlachi) in Cuba and Grand Cayman. First two groups interbreed in extensive and long since stable hybrid zone from Alaska through the Great Plains, where relatively few individuals are typical of one form or the other, and non-assortative mating is common. Relationships among groups and individual races complex, poorly understood; also, considerable individual variation occurs, and races interbreed wherever they meet; further research and revision needed. Additional described races, considered to represent intergrades or otherwise inadequately differentiated, include borealis (NW to NC North America), sedentarius (Santa Cruz I, California), martirensis (San Pedro Mártir Mts, in NW Baja California) and pinicolus (highlands of El Salvador to N Nicaragua). Race rufipileus (Guadalupe I, off W Baja California) is extinct. Nine extant subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • luteus Bangs, 1898 - C Alaska E across Canada to S Labrador and Newfoundland, and S to Montana and NE USA.
  • auratus (Linnaeus, 1758) - SE USA.
  • cafer (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) - S Alaska and British Columbia S to N California.

     See all 9 subspecies
  • luteus Bangs, 1898 - C Alaska E across Canada to S Labrador and Newfoundland, and S to Montana and NE USA.
  • auratus (Linnaeus, 1758) - SE USA.
  • cafer (J. F. Gmelin, 1788) - S Alaska and British Columbia S to N California.
  • collaris Vigors, 1829 - SW USA S to NW Baja California and W Mexico (S to about Durango).
  • mexicanus Swainson, 1827 - Durango E across Mexican Plateau to San Luis Potosí and S to Oaxaca.
  • nanus Griscom, 1934 - W Texas S to NE Mexico.
  • mexicanoides Lafresnaye, 1844 - highlands from S Mexico (Chiapas) to Nicaragua.
  • chrysocaulosus Gundlach, 1858 - Cuba.
  • gundlachi Cory, 1886 - Grand Cayman I.