Thursday 23 May
Chilean flicker (Colaptes pitius)
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Chilean flicker fact file
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Chilean flicker description
The most common species of woodpecker in Chile, the Chilean flicker can be identified by the striking patterning of its plumage and its characteristic call, "pitio-pitio-pitio" (2). The upperparts are dark brown with pale brownish and yellowish-white fringes on the individual feathers, creating an irregular network of wavy bars. In contrast, the neck, breast and underparts are whitish-grey or buffy-white, with blackish-brown barring (2) (3). Other distinctive features of this species include bright yellow eyes and a tawny area that extends from the base of the bill around the cheeks. There are two recognised subspecies of the Chilean flicker, Colaptes pitius pitius and Colaptes pitius cachinnans, the latter being slightly larger, with thicker bars on the chest (2).
- Also known as
- Pitigüe, pitío, pitíu.
- Length: 32 – 34 cm (2)
- The Nature Conservancy:
- Conservacion Patagonica:
- BirdLife International:
- A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- IUCN Red List (April, 2009)
- Aves de Chile (June, 2009)
- Biggar, J. (2001) The Andes: A Trekking Guide. Andes, Kirkcudbrightshire.
- BirdLife International (June, 2009)
- Darwin, C.R. (1870) Notes on the habits of the pampas woodpecker (Colaptes campestris). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 47: 705 - 706. Available at:
- Short, L.L. (1970) Habits and relationships of the Magellanic woodpecker. The Wilson Bulletin, 82: 115 - 123.
- Figueroa, R., Jiménez, J.E., Bravo, C.A. and Corales, E.S. (2000) The diet of the rufous-tailed hawk (Buteo ventralis) during the breeding season in southern Chile. Ornitologia Neotropical, 11: 349 - 352.
- Rojas, R.A.F. and Stappung, E.S.C. (2004) Summer diet comparison between the American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) and Aplomado Falcon (Falco femoralis) in AN agricultural area of Araucanía, southern Chile. Hornero, 19: 53 - 60.
- Reid, S., Cornelius, C., Barbosa, O., Meynard, C., Silva-García, C. and Marquet, P.A. (2002) Conservation of temperate forest birds in Chile: implications from the study of an isolated forest relict. Biodiversity and Conservation, 11: 1975 - 1990.
- Vasquez, R.A. and Simonetti, J.A. (1999) Life history traits and sensitivity to landscape change: the case of birds and mammals of mediterranean Chile. Revista Chilena de Historia Natural, 72: 517 - 525.
- World Database on Protected Areas (June, 2009)
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Chilean flicker biology
During his visit to South America, Charles Darwin was surprised to encounter two species of woodpecker that nest and forage on the ground in open areas, rather than in trees within woodland and forest like other members of the group (5). One of these species was the Chilean flicker, which is commonly observed foraging in the soil and amongst shrubs for insects and their larvae (2) (6). This species will also capture prey by using its strong bill to pierce wood and extract insect larvae with its tongue (2).
Only occasionally constructing its nest in cavities within tree trunks, the Chilean flicker mostly excavates nesting holes in cliffs, steep slopes and banks. A clutch of five or six eggs is usually laid within this cavity (2).Top
Chilean flicker range
The Chilean flicker is found almost exclusively in Chile (2), although individuals have also been recorded in Argentina (4). Subspecies Colaptes pitius pitius occurs from the northern-central region of Coquimbo to the southern region of Aysén, while Colaptes pitius cachinnans is distributed to the south, from Chiloé Island and Llanquihue province south to the Magallanes region (2).Top
Chilean flicker habitat
The Chilean flicker can be found from the coast to the foothills of the Andes, up to elevations of 2,000 metres above sea level (2). It inhabits bushes in open fields and dry, stony hills, as well as forest edges, but avoids entering the forest (2) (5).Top
Chilean flicker status
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).Top
Chilean flicker threats
There are currently no major threats to the Chilean flicker’s survival (4). While the areas in which this species occurs are currently being affected by human encroachment, fire use and agriculture (9), it is considered to be relatively tolerant of habitat degradation (10).Top
Chilean flicker conservationTop
Find out more
To learn more about conservation initiatives in the Chilean flicker’s range visit:
For more information on this and other bird species please see:
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