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Gilded Flicker

 Colaptes chrysoides

Length: 11 inches Wingspan: 18 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Very similar to Northern Flicker, tan crown, tan upperparts with barring, lighter below with spots, dark bib, gray face and throat

Gilded Flicker -  Colaptes chrysoidesAt one time, the Gilded Flicker was considered a subspecies of the similar Northern Flicker, but the two species were split in 1973. The Gilded Flicker does have distinct but subtle plumage differences. In the small area where the ranges of the two species overlap, there is limited interbreeding. Given the former treatment of the species as conspecific with the Northern Flicker, there have been relatively few independent studies of the species.  As such, specifics of breeding and other behavior details are not completely understood.


Strongly preferred habitat are deserts of the Sonoran Desert with saguaro cactus that are used for nesting.  They will also less frequently use riparian zones with large trees.


Feeds heavily on insects, with a preference for ants.  They will also feed on fruits and berries, nuts, and seeds.


Most foraging is done on the ground.  There, they walk along, stopping to dig in the soil with their bills as they search for ants, or glean insects from the ground or vegetation when spotted. 


The nest is a cavity built by excavating a hole in a saguaro cactus, or less often, in a large tree in a riparian zone (such as a cottonwood).  No materials are used to augmented the nesting cavity, as eggs are laid directly on the floor of the cavity. The female lays between 3 and 5 white eggs. Both the male and female help to incubate the eggs, with incubation lasting about 12 days. The young fledge from the nest after about 25 days, but parents and young still remain in contact for another couple of weeks until the young become fully independent.


Has a long wika-wika-wika-wika call, as well as a crying kyeer call. The song is a very audible and long kik-kik-kik-kik-kik.


Considered a permanent resident throughout its range, with only short local movements of most populations.

Interactive eBird map:

Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Gilded Flicker sightings

Similar Species:

There are a couple of other similarly sized woodpecker species that could be confused with a Gilded Flicker.

Northern Flicker 10 - Colaptes auratus Northern Flicker 7 - Colaptes auratus Gila Woodpecker 13 - Melanerpes uropygialis Gila Woodpecker 15 - Melanerpes uropygialis
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted, male) Northern Flicker (Red-shafted, female) Gila Woodpecker (male) Gila Woodpecker (male)


They will sometimes attend feeders for offered fruits.

Conservation Status:

Local loss of habitat has hurt the species in some locations, with overall populations declining compared to historical levels prior to 1900.  In recent decades, the Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird count records indicate rather sharp declines, of 50% or more in the last 40 years. However, they are still relatively common in parts of their range, and overall numbers currently aren't considered to be a major concern. The IUCN lists the Gilded Flicker as a species of "Least Concern"

Further Information:

Photo Information:

Photo taken on May 8th, 2008 - Outskirts of Tucson, Arizona - Terry Sohl

Audio File Credits:

Click below for a higher-resolution map
Gilded Flicker - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Gilded Flicker Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Gilded Flicker 1 - Colaptes chrysoidesGilded Flicker 2 - Colaptes chrysoidesGilded Flicker 3 - Colaptes chrysoidesGilded Flicker 4 - Colaptes chrysoidesGilded Flicker 5 - Colaptes chrysoides