To investigate the mating system of northern flickers (Colaptes auratus), we developed primers for 14 microsatellite loci and screened them in 68 unrelated adults and their offspring. All markers were highly polymorphic with 9 to +36 alleles per locus. One marker was Z-chromosome linked; one marker exceeded the size standard range and could not be analysed further. We checked the other 12 markers for Mendelian inheritance in 36 broods for which the social parents were known. Seven markers showed evidence for the presence of null alleles, and three of those showed significant deviation from Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. Markers were generally unlinked.