Written by: T. Harvey, C. Polite
Reviewed by: N. Johnson
Edited by: N. Johnson
DISTRIBUTION, ABUNDANCE, AND SEASONALITY
Ranges commonly throughout California below
2,750 m (9,000 ft) in all forest and
shrub habitats (Grinnell and Miller 1944). Occurs yearlong except
in high mountains,
and in Mojave and Colorado deserts where it mostly is a migrant.
Breeds locally in
Owens Valley and Mojave Desert (Garrett and Dunn 1981). Commonly
Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina Islands; otherwise a winter migrant on
The gilded flicker (C. chrysoides), which occurs in the Colorado River
elevated from a subspecies of northern flicker to species level on
the basis of
reproductive isolation and differences in genetic and life-history
traits (Johnson 1969,
Koenig 1984, American Ornithologists Union 1995).
SPECIFIC HABITAT REQUIREMENTS
Feeding: Annual diet about 55% animal
matter (mostly insects) consumed primarily
in spring and summer, and 45% plant matter, eaten mostly in fall and
many ants (50-75% of animal diet); also beetles, grasshoppers, crickets,
caterpillars, various larvae. In fall, eats acorns and seeds
(20% of annual diet); winter
diet includes berries and other fruits (Bent 1939). Forages in
open forest areas, on
ground, in shrubs, and occasionally on branches and trunks of trees.
Uses bill to
probe, dig, and glean.
Cover: Trees, shrubs, nest and roost
cavities provide cover. Commonly uses
riparian deciduous areas and mature, open stands with snags.
Reproduction: Nest cavity excavated in
soft wood of snag or dead branch of live
tree; occasionally in post, pole, bank, or other structure. Nest
cavity usually up to 30 m
(100 ft) above ground (Lawrence 1967). Averaged 7-8 m (23-26
ft) above ground at
Sagehen Creek, Sierra Co. (Raphael and White 1984). Minimum snag
size suitable for
nesting is 48 cm (19 in) dbh and 1.8 m (6 ft) in height. Courtship
and mating occur in
trees with potential nest sites (Bent 1939).
Water: Drinks occasionally (Hering 1948).
Pattern: Suitable habitat consists of
open forest and shrub habitats with abundant
ecotones for feeding, and snags for nest cavities.
SPECIES LIFE HISTORY
Activity Patterns: Yearlong, diurnal
Seasonal Movements/Migration: In winter,
usually migrates down-slope to areas
below snowline. Some remain in mountains, often in foraging flocks.
In desert areas,
frequents desert riparian and pinyon-juniper habitats in winter.
Home Range: Territory and home range
apparently same. Sierra Nevada
hardwood habitats supported a mean of 14 pairs per 40 ha (100 ac);
riparian and mixed
conifer habitats supported means of 8.7 and 2.9 pairs per 40 ha (100
Burned eastside pine forest at Sagehen Creek, Sierra Co. supported
6 breeding pairs
per 40 ha (100 ac) (Raphael and White 1984).
Territory: A territory of 16 ha (40 ac)
was estimated for a breeding pair in a conifer
forest in Ontario (Lawrence 1967).
Reproduction: Breeds from April through
July. Clutch size 4-14 eggs; mean 6-7
(Bent 1939). Incubation 11-16 days, by both sexes. Male
provides most of care for
altricial young, which fledge at 25-28 days. Adults apparently
pair for life.
Niche: Mammals prey on eggs and young.
Falcons, accipiters, and buteos have
been reported as predators of adults. Potentially competes with
screech-owls, and other cavity nesters for nest sites (Ingold 1996).
in desert areas contribute to mortality of newly arriving fall migrants
(Wauer 1962). An
important excavator of nest cavities in soft wood (Thomas 1979).
The most terrestrial
of woodpeckers in North America (Ehrlich et al. 1988).
American Ornithologists Union. 1995. Fortieth supplement
to the American
Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North
American Birds. Auk 112:819-830.
Bent, A. C. 1939. Life histories of North American woodpeckers.
U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull.
Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's
handbook. Simon and
Schuster, New York. 785pp.
Garrett, K., and J. Dunn. 1981. Birds of southern California.
Los Angeles Audubon
Grinnell, J., and A. H. Miller. 1944. The distribution
of the birds of California. Pac.
Coast Avifauna No. 27. 608pp.
Hering, L. 1948. Nesting birds of the Black Forest, Colorado.
Ingold, D. J. 1996. Delayed nesting decreases reproductive
success in northern
flickers: implications for competition with
European starlings. J. Field Ornithol.
Johnson, N. K. 1969. Review: Three papers on variation
in flickers (Colaptes) by
Lester L. Short, Jr. Wilson Bull. 81:225-230.
Koenig, W. C. 1984. Clutch size of the gilded flicker.
Lawrence, L. de K. 1967. A comparative life-history study
of four species of
woodpeckers. Ornithol. Monogr. No. 5.
Raphael, M. G., and M. White. 1984. Use of snags by cavity-nesting
birds in the Sierra
Nevada. Wild. Monogr. No. 86.
Thomas, J. W., ed. 1979. Wildlife habitats in managed forests:
The Blue Mountains of
Oregon and Washington. U.S. Dept. Agric.,
For. Serv., Portland, OR. Agric.
Handb. No. 553. 512pp.
Wauer, R. H. 1962. A survey of the birds of Death Valley.
Compiled from information from California Department of Fish and Game - California Interagency Wildlife Task Group