Saturday, March 3, 2012

What kind of Flicker is that? Land birds from the Butcher Jones Trail, Superstition Mts.

A view of an inlet of Saguaro Lake from the Butcher Jones Trail in the Superstition Mts, near Phoenix, AZ; 12/23/2011.
As I promised, last weekend, on this post I will feature more land birds that I came across on my Dec. 23, 2011, hike on the Butcher Jones Trail (Above).
LAND: Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Great-tailed Grackles, Yellow-rumped Audubon's Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Verdin, Black-throated Sparrows, Cactus Wrens, Curve-billed Thrasher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, European Starlings, American Robin (heard only), Gila Woodpecker, Northern Red-shafted Flicker, Gilded Flicker (?), and Phainopeplas (see my post from last weekend on 2/26/2012).
I also saw many WATER BIRDS (see my 2/25/12 post for these): Great Blue Heron, Ring-billed Gulls, American Coots, Western Grebes (hundreds), Pied-billed Grebe, Mallards, Ruddy Ducks, Buffleheads, Greater Scaups, Ring-necked Ducks, and Gadwalls.
I had a good view of this Gila Woodpecker sitting on a dumpster in the parking lot of the Butcher Jones Trailhead, Superstition Mts, near Phoenix, AZ; 12/23/2011.
Similar to the Gila Woodpecker (Above), I also heard the piercing cries of both the Northen (Red-shafted) Flicker and the Gilded Flicker. But when I finally saw one of them sitting atop a Suagaro cactus (Below), I wasn't sure which kind it was.
Which Flicker is this? a Gilded or a Northern?
I am leaning towards this being a Gilded Flickr because the tannish cap seemed to stretch further down its nape as it does for the Gilded. The Northern's nape is more gray. The photo is not altogether conclusive, however. I was waiting for it to take flight so I could get a glimpse of its underwing. The Gilded's underwing would be yellow, while the Northern's (in the West) would be more reddish. In the West the Northern Flicker is known as the Red-shafted Flicker. (In the East the Northern Flicker is the "Yellow-Shafted" Flicker and would have the same underwing color as the Gilded. But AZ is too far west for the yellow-shafteds to be present). Somehow, I don't remember why, but I missed it when it flew off, so I didn't get the positive field mark I was hoping for. (Below) are two photos(one of each species) that I had taken on previous trips out West.
A photo of a Gilded Flicker, Tucson, AZ; 12/27/2009.
My only photo of a GIlded Flicker (Above) was while I was hiking in the Sonoran Desert, near the Museum, west of Tucson in the winter of 2009. As one can see in the photo (Above) the reddish tan crown stretches well down the nape .
A Northern "Red-Shafted" Flicker, Silverthorne Bike Trail, Colorado; 7/4/2010.
The photo of the Northern "Red-Shafted" Flicker (Above) shows the clean gray of the nape. Otherwise it had all same field markings of a Gilded Flicker: red malar, black breast band, spotted breast, brown and black barred back and wings. I knew this was a Red-Shafted Flicker because I saw it fly to the ground from high up in a nearby lodgepole pine, showing its reddish underwings and tail. Red-Shafted Flickers have a far more reaching range than the Gilded Flickers. Red Shafteds are found west of the Great Plains covering all the states from north to south. In the summers they migrate throughout Canada and into Alaska. Gilded Flickers are common, but have a much smaller range - found only in the southern half of arizona and into Mexico.

A Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Butcher Jones Trail, Superstition Widerness, AZ; 2/23/2011.
Well, enough about Flickers. I did see other birds on this hike, as the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (Above), and others (Below)...
A Cactus Wren, Butcher Jones Trail in the Superstition Mts, Phoenix, AZ; 12/23/2011.

A Curve-billed Thrasher, Butcher Jones Trail in the Superstition Mts, Phoenix, AZ; 12/23/2011.
A Verdin, Butcher Jones Trail in the Superstition Mts, Phoenix, AZ; 12/23/2011.
A Yellow-rumped "Audubon's" Warbler, Butcher Jones Trail in the Superstition Mts, Phoenix, AZ; 12/23/2011.

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