Sunday, 19 January 2014

Northern flicker

Colaptes auratus

(Photo from 4Goo)

Common name:
northern flicker (en); pica-pau-pintado (pt); pic flamboyant (fr); carpintero escapulario (es); goldspecht (de)

Order Piciformes
Family Picidae

This species is found across North America and in Central America as far south as Nicaragua. Also in Cuba and Great Cayman. The ore northern population migrate south to winter in the southern part of the range.

These birds are 28-35 cm long and have a wingspan of 42-55 cm. They weigh 110-160 g.

The northern flicker is found in various wooded habitats, including moist tropical forests, dry tropical forests, mangroves, temperate forests and boreal forests. They also use pastures, arable land and urban parks and gardens. They re present from sea level up to an altitude of 3.500 m.

Unlike other woodpecker, northern flickers forage mostly on the ground, taking ants, beetles,
flies, butterflies, moths, grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, termites, wasps, aphid, spiders and snails. They also eat fruits, berries, seeds, acorns and nuts.

Northern flickers breed in February-July. They are monogamous and can mate for life, with both sexes helping excavate the nest on a dead tree or dead branch on a live tree, or sometimes on a telephone pole. The nest hole is usually up to 3 m above the ground. The female lays 3-12 glossy white eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 11-16 days. The chicks are fed mainly be the male and fledge 24-28 days after hatching. Each pair may raise 1-2 broods per season.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 16 million individual. The population has undergone a small decline over the last 4 decades but the cause of this decline is unclear, maybe being caused by competition for nest cavities with other birds, reduced availability of nest sites, or the application of pesticides.

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