This desert-dwelling woodpecker breeds in southern Arizona, southern Nevada, southeastern California, and into Sonora, Mexico, and Baja California. They excavate their nesting cavities in giant cactus (i.e., saguaro and Mexican giant cardon).
This woodpecker is related to the common widespread Northern Flicker and shares similar behaviors such as the famous “wicka wicka” call and dance move. Two rivals or a pair will swing their head back and forth while facing each other and call “wicka wicka wicka” to each other. It’s a popular dance move sweeping the west coast right now.
Why a Species of Concern
Loss of riparian forests and saguaro cactus in the Lower Colorado River are the main reasons the Gilded Flicker is nearly extirpated from the Valley. It is also evident Gilded Flickers will not reside near human settlements, which are common along the Lower Colorado River since the introduction of agriculture. Wildfires also present further habitat loss as the saguaro cactus, where they nest, can be killed. This flicker is endangered in California, on the Yellow Watch List for Partners in Flight, and included in the LCR MSCP (Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program).
There was a 50% population decline in the United States from 1950 to 2014. As of 2015, only 22 estimated pairs remain on the upper reaches of the Bill Williams River. Future programs with the LCR MSCP involve the creation of artificial snags for nesting.