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A genus of bird encompassing many members of the woodpecker family. Colaptes comes from the Greek verb colapt, to peck.

Probably the most famous member of the Colaptes genus is the Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus, known in parts of the American south as the 'Yellowhammer'. The bird is the state bird of Alabama, and the state's nickname is the 'Yellowhammer State'.


This genus can be divided into two groups: The flickers (subgenus Colaptes) are slender and more terrestrial species with usually one-colored tops of the heads. They occur all over of the Americas except in polar regions. The forest flickers (subgenus Chrysoptilus) are more arboreal species; almost all of them have a red nape and a differently-colored crown. They are found in South America; a group of three species formerly believed to belong into Piculus ranges via the mesoamerican Cordillera north up to Mexico (Benz et al., 2006).

Subgenus Colaptes

  • Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus. The binomen (species name) means "gilt" (gilded).
    • Yellow-shafted Flicker, Colaptes (auratus) auratus
    • Red-shafted Flicker, Colaptes (auratus) cafer
    • Guadalupe Flicker, Colaptes auratus/cafer rufipileus - extinct (c.1910)
  • Gilded Flicker, Colaptes chrysoides. The species name chrysoides means "like gold".
  • Fernandina's Flicker, Colaptes fernandinae, an endangered bird native to Cuba. Fernandina was an early name for Cuba.
  • Chilean Flicker, Colaptes pitius. The species name derives from the bird's characteristic call, which is "pitiu-pitiu-pitiu".
  • Andean Flicker, Colaptes rupicola, found in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. rupicola is Latin for "rock-dweller".
  • Campo Flicker, Colaptes campestris. The species name campestris is Latin for "of the fields" and refers to the species' favorite habitat, open grassland.

An undescribed fossil form from the Bahamas should belong into this group; it is probably close to C. fernandinae.

Subgenus Chrysoptilus

  • Black-necked Woodpecker, Colaptes atricollis. The binomen atricollis is Latin for "dark-necked".
  • Spot-breasted Woodpecker, Colaptes punctigula.The species name punctigula comes from the Latin adverb punctatus meaning 'spotted', and the noun gula, meaning throat.
  • Green-barred Woodpecker, Colaptes melanochloros. The species name melanochloros derives from the Greek melanos, meaning "black", and chloros, "pale green", the principal colors of this bird.
    • Golden-breasted Woodpecker, Colaptes melanochloros melanolaimus. The southern subspecies of the Green-barred Woodpecker are sometimes considered a distinct species.
  • Golden-olive Woodpecker, Colaptes rubiginosus. The binomen means "full of rust", describing the color of the bird's wings and back.
  • Gray-crowned Woodpecker, Colaptes auricularis. auricularis means "eared", an appearance created by the confluent, fine patterning of the species' head.
  • Crimson-mantled Woodpecker, Colaptes rivolii, named in honor of André Masséna, duke of Rivoli


  • Benz, Brett W.; Robbins, Mark B. & Peterson, A. Townsend (2006): Evolutionary history of woodpeckers and allies (Aves: Picidae): Placing key taxa on the phylogenetic tree. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 40: 389–399.

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