by Crystal Cockman
March 23, 2017
The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) is native to most of North America, parts of Central America, Cuba and the Cayman islands. They are one of a few species of woodpecker that migrate. Flickers in the northern part of their range move south for the winter. They are a medium-sized woodpecker, brown in color with black spots and bars on their body, and a white rump patch that stands out when they are in flight. They have a shock of red on the back of their heads, and males have a black (in the east) or red (in the west) mustached stripe at the base of their beaks.
In the east, the undersides of the wing and tail feathers are yellow. In the west, they are red. This is probably why eastern Northern Flickers are also called yellowhammer woodpeckers. There’s a classic Appalachian trout fly that used to use the feathers of northern flickers called a Yellow Hammer or Yellarhammer fly. It’s not legal to take a northern flicker, so there are synthetic feathers that look similar that you can get to tie the fly. You can read more about them and learn how to tie them in Roger Lowe’s Fly Pattern Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains. Roger is from Waynesville, NC. [Read more…]