The Flicker has the most folknames and names of any species of bird that nests in North America. In this sample, the etymology has been combined with the folknames and names listing.

from North American Bird Folknames and Names by James K. Sayre

Copyright 1996. All Rights Reserved.

The Flicker has the singular honor of having more folknames and names than any other bird that breeds in North America.

Modern Name: Flicker

Scientific Name: Colaptes auratus

[Etymology: flicker Middle English flikeren,behave frivolously, trifle, Old English flicorian, flycerian, flicerian,to flutter, compare: Old Norse flokrea;may be named for its motion flying from tree to tree, showing white wing spots, which present a flickering effect].

Folknames and Names: Antbird, Ant Woodchuck, Big Sapsucker, Big Woodpecker, Black-heart Woodpecker, Boreal Flicker, Buidheag Bhuachair, Carpintero, Carpintero Collrejo, Carpintero Escapulario, Carpintero Ribero, Cave-duc, Clape, Claype, Common Flicker, Cotton-backed Yellowhammer, Cotton-rump, Cotton-tail, Crescent-bird, Eastern flicker, English Woodpecker, Fiddler, Flicker, Flicker Woodpecker, Flitter, French Woodpecker, Gaffer Woodpecker, Gaffle Woodpecker, Gale Shbecht, Gallie, Gel Specht, Gelb Specht, Golden Sapsucker, Golden-shafted Flicker, Golden-shafted Woodpecker, Golden-wing, Golden-winged Flicker, Golden-winged Woodpecker, Gold-wing Woodpecker, Golden-wing Woodpecker, Gold-winged Woodpecker, Golden Woodpecker, Golden-winged Woodcock, Gold Woodpecker, Grasshopper Woodpecker, Gree Shbecht, Hairy-wicket, Harry-wicket, Hammer-head, He-hi-holder, Heigh-ho, Hexa Shbecht, Hick-wall, High-hole, High-holer, High-hold, High-holder, High-ho Woodpecker, Higholder, Hittock, Hittocks, Hittuck, Hivel, Hybrid Flicker, Jaune, Joune, Le pic aux ailes dores, Little Woodchuck, Meadow Partridge, Missouri Red-moustashed Woodpecker, Mo-ning-qua-na, Northern Flicker, O-hi-o, Ome-tuc, On-thee-quan-nor-ow, O-zaw-wan-day Paw-Paw-say, Partridge Woodpecker, Paw-Paw-say, Paw-Paw-say-og, Peckwood, Peckerwood, Peerit, Pee-ut, Pe-up, Pic-a-bois, Picque-bois-jaune, Pic Dore, Pie-bis, Pie-bris, Pigeon, Pigeon Woodpecker, Pink-throat, Pique-bois Dore, Picque-bois-jaune, Piut, Pi-ute, Pivart, Poule de Bois, Rain Bird, Rain Fowl, Rampike, Red-shafted Woodpecker, Sapsuck, Sapsucker, Shad-spirit, Sharp-billed Flicker, Silver Dollar Bird, Spotted Woodpecker, Sucker, Specht, Speckt, Speight, Spright, Southern Flicker, Southern Woodpecker, Talpa-na-ni, Taping-bird, Tree-pecker, Wa-cup, Wah-cup, Walk-up, Wake-up, Wa-wup, Weather Bird, Weather-hen, Wheeler, Whittaker, Wild Hen, Will Crisson, Winter Robin, Woodchuck, Woodcock, Wood-lark, Woodpeck, Woodpecker, Woodpicker, Woodpecker Lark, Wood Pigeon, Wood-quoi, Wood-wall, Xebec, Yacker, Yecker, Yucker, Yaffle, Yallow Wheeler, Yallow Whicker, Yarrup, Yarup, Yar-rup, Yawker Bird, Yaw-up, Yellow Flicker, Yellowhammer, Yellow-hammer High-hole, Yellerhammer, Yallerhammer, Yellow-'ammer, Yellow Jay, Yellow-shafted Flicker, Yellow-shafted Woodpecker, Yellow-winged Woodpecker, Yellow Wing, Yellow-winged Sapsucker, Yellow-winged Woodcock, Yellow Woodpecker, Zebec.


An early ornithologist, Frank L. Burns, listed over one hundred and twenty names in his "The Monograph of the Flicker," which appeared in the April 1900 issue of the Wilson Bulletin, published in Oberlin, Ohio. In this list there are one hundred and sixty names. The flicker also holds the record in North America for the most single word (un-hyphenated) names: forty-one (41). To show some of the varied roots of bird names, the discussions by Frank Burns will be shown for some of the Flicker names [Burns].

Format: Bird Name. State(s) or region used. Discussion.

Antbird: Minnesota. Derived from its taste for eating ants. Big Sapsucker: Northern States. Misnomer. Carpintero: Spanish. (Carpenter), name applied to entire woodpecker family. Cav-duc: Maine. French-canadian name. Clape: Western New York. Of English colonial origin. Common Flicker: East and West. Refers to Yellow-shafted race, especially in parts of Midwest where its range overlapped with Red-shafted race. Cotton-rump: Pennsylvania. From white patch on rump. Crescent-bird: West. Named for crescents near neck. English Woodpecker: Long Island and Newfoundland. name by early settlers who thought that the Flicker was related to an English woodpecker. Fiddler: Cape Cod. Supposedly from odd motions of a courting male. Flicker: Possibly from seeing colored shafts on wings while bird was flying. Flitter: Eastern Pennsylvania. Corruption of Flicker. French Woodpecker: New Hampshire. Possibly derived from the term, "French-pie," which was used in parts of England as a name for the Great Spotted Woodpecker. Gelb Specht, Gel Specht: Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Dutch (Yellow Woodpecker). Grasshopper Woodpecker: Vermont. From feeding habit. Hairy-wicket: New England. Corruption of mating call. High-holer: Northern United States and Canada; From usual location of nest in tree. Hybrid Flicker: West. Name refers to birds of a mixing of the red-shafted race and the yellow-shafted race. Jaune: Louisiana. French for (Yellow). Meadow Partridge: Wisconsin. Misnomer, referring to partridge-like flushing behavior when startled while feeding in grasslands. Ome-tuc: Maine. Indian name. On-thee-quan-nor-ow: Northern Canada. Indian name referring to colors on wings. Peckerwood: South. Humorous twist of Woodpecker. Peerit: New England. From shrill calls. Sapsucker: South. From mistaken belief that Flickers suck sap from trees. Shadspirit: New England Coast. From belief that Flickers preceeded shad fish in vernal migration north. Silver Dollar Bird: Pennsylvania. From white rump mark. Specht: Pennsylvania. German for (Woodpecker). Talpa-na-ni: Southern Florida. Seminole Indianname. Wa-cup: Connecticut. Name from song. Weather-hen: Vermont. Named because of vocalizations before storms. Yacker: New England. Onomatopoeic origin. Yarup: Midwest. From call. Yellowhammer: New England and Midwest. Colonial name from England.



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