Bird of the Week, November 16, 2012

Gilded Flicker


 

Gilded Flicker by Greg Homel

 

The Gilded Flicker is a medium-sized, tan and black woodpecker, with a yellowish crown and yellow shafts on its primaries. It was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the Northern Flicker (along with the Yellow- and Red-shafted Flickers), but was declared a separate species in 1995 based on differences in range, appearance, and adaptations to a desert environment. It is non-migratory.

 

The Gilded Flicker nests primarily in cavities dug into saguaro cacti, but also may use cottonwoods and willows in riparian woodland. It is primarily a ground-foraging species, feeding on insects (primarily ants), fruits, and seeds.

 

The loss of nesting habitat and suitable nest cavities in the Sonoran Desert are the primary threats to the Gilded Flicker, especially in Arizona, where human population growth is intense. The conservation of this woodpecker is important to other species, such as the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Elf Owl (another WatchList species), which nest in the holes that the Gilded Flicker excavates. Since the Gilded Flicker's range is already severely restricted, preserving the Sonoran Desert and protecting its large cacti are the two most important conservation issues for this unique species.

 

 

 

Photo: Greg Homel; Range Map, NatureServe