2 Types of Flickers (with Pictures)

Birds are known for their graceful movements and beautiful plumage, but have you ever noticed a flicker in their flight?

Believe it or not, there are actually two types of flickers: the Northern Flicker and the Gilded Flicker.

In this article, we’ll dive into the unique characteristics and behaviors of these fascinating birds, including their distinct plumage, habitat, and migration patterns.

Whether you’re a bird enthusiast or simply curious about the natural world, this article will give you a deeper understanding of the Northern Flicker and Gilded Flicker.

Northern FlickerNorthern Flicker
Gilded FlickerGilded Flicker

Types of Flickers

1. Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker is a big woodpecker with a long, flaring tail that curves to a point and a thin, rounded head.

The beak is somewhat decurved.

A flicker’s white rump spot stands out in flight and is typically noticeable while the bird is perched, adding contrast to the rest of the bird’s brown appearance.

Eastern birds have brilliant yellow tails and underwings, whereas western birds have bright red tails and underwings.

The brown feathers are intricately patterned with black patches, bands, and crescents if you look closely enough.

When not on the ground, Northern Flickers may be seen sitting erect on horizontal branches rather than splayed out with their tails against a tree.

Like several other woodpeckers, their flight pattern consists of a series of steep ascents and descents, with powerful flaps and glides thrown in for good measure.

Flickers are more likely to be seen in open areas around trees, such as gardens, parks, forests, and forest margins.

They populate western mountain woods up to the tree line.

The Northern Flicker is a bird native to North America, and it has two distinct subspecies: the yellow-shafted East, which may be found across the Great Plains and Texas, and the red-shafted West.

The primary distinction is in the shafts of the flying plumage, which might be a bright yellow or a deep red.

The yellow-shafted figures had tanned features, grey thrones, and a crimson crescent at the back of their necks.

Males sport a black line through the mustache. Hybrids seem intermediate and are abundant along the range margins of these two species; they have a brown crown, grey face, and no nape crescent, and males possess a red mustache stripe.

2. Gilded Flicker

Gilded Flicker

Gilded Flickers, residents of the arid Sonoran Desert, may often be seen perched precariously high on the stout branches of saguaros and Mexican gigantic cardon cacti.

These desert birds are related to the somewhat bigger Northern Flicker and share that species’ yellow underwings and vivid cinnamon crest.

In the wee hours of the morning, their cries echo over the desert.

Despite their close nesting relationship with huge cacti, these woodpeckers do most of their foraging on the ground, where they use their long tongue to extract ants from their nests.

The tongues of woodpeckers may grow to be a few inches long, making them uniquely suited for probing tree trunks.

Flickers, for example, often capture ants that are burrowed deep below because of this adaptability.

The European starling is an invasive species that has been shown to be hostile to native cavity-nesting birds.

However, the Gilded Flicker, which is both bigger and more hostile, seems to be able to keep them off; nesting success is unaffected by starlings.

The Gilded Flicker from Arizona that survived the longest was at least six years and Four months old.

Gilded Flickers may be found in the Sonoran Desert from the southwestern United States into Baja California, Mexico, amid the gigantic saguaro and cardon cacti up to an altitude of around 3,200 feet.

Gilded is considerably less tolerant of disturbance.

Therefore, if you want to discover them, you should do it early in the morning in the desert.

When seeing a flicker, keep an eye out for the distinctive features of the Gilded variety, such as the cinnamon crown, yellow underwing tones, whiter (and less heavily barred) rump, and more crescent-shaped dots on the abdomen.


Many flickers exist in each region. Northern and glided flickers are common flickers spotted around.

After reading this article, you’ll be able to know their attributes like behavior, appearance, habitat, and range.


What are the two types of flicker birds?

The two main types of flicker birds are the Northern Flicker and the Yellow-shafted Flicker.

How can I identify a Northern Flicker?

Northern Flickers can be identified by their brown plumage with black spots, a red nape, and a white rump. They also have a distinctive white “mustache” on their face.

What do flicker birds eat?

Flicker birds mostly eat insects, fruits, and seeds.

Are flicker birds endangered?

The Northern Flicker is not considered endangered, but the Yellow-shafted Flicker has seen a decline in population due to habitat destruction and competition with the hybridized “red-shafted” flicker.

Last Updated on March 22, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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