Thursday, September 2, 2010

Northern Flickers: Yellow-shafted & Red-shafted

Northern "Yellow-shafted" Flicker at Rowe Sanctuary, Nebraska; 7-11-10.
We also saw several Northern Flickers at the Rowe Sanctuary, the Eastern version, or the "Yellow-shafted" Flicker.  Unfortunately I didn't get a great picture of the male (Above) with its prominent black malar (the stripe between the throat and the mustache line). He always seemed to be behind a branch, too far away, or in a shadow. Good identifying features of a Northern Flicker are its black malar, spotted belly, a red crescent on its nape, a black breast band, its white rump, and when it's in flight the underwings are yellow.

The photo (Below) of the same Flicker was in the shadow of a branch that made him appear as if he was wearing a black cap. Initially when I first looked at the photo I didn't even recognize it as a Flicker.
The shadow on the top of this Northern "Yellow-shafted" Flicker made it look like he was wearing a black cap and hood surrounding a reddish face.  This lighting confused my identification, made it look some kind of a weird cross between a wild turkey and a tree perching bird. If I didn't also have the photo (At Top), I still might have stuck it in my "unknown bird" file.

It's black-spotted belly and breast is a sure give-away that it's a Flicker, as no other woodpecker type bird has such definite spotted markings. Other woodpeckers markings on the belly are more of a barred shaped or plain. The photo (Below) is the female Yellow-shafted Flicker. It's identical to the male except without the black malar.  On this photo you can see the red crescent on its nape and its white rump.
Female Yellow-shafted Flicker showing off its red crescent on its nape and white rump which is identical to the male, but does not sport the black malar.
The Western version of the Northern Flicker is the Red-shafted Flicker (Below). It is identical to the Yellow-shafted Flicker except its malar is bright red instead of black and it doesn't sport the red crescent on the nape. Also in flight, its underwings are more reddish-orange instead of yellow. It seems that most of the time when I see a Red-shafted Flicker, it's uually foraging on the ground, but when I see a Yellow-shafted Flicker, it's usually clinging to a dead branch up high in a tree.
A female Red-shafted Flicker; Rocky Mountain Nat. Park, CO; 7-8-10.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pretty little guys...I love that last shot on the simple that it lets the flicka shine!