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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Northern Flicker

yellow-shafter flicker

It rained almost the entire day, and that was a good thing! We need rain here- quite a few of the recent storms have missed us, and things are dry. I also needed to spend a good solid day of inside work without being tempted to head off into the woods. I'm showing you a visitor to the yard from yesterday.

It's the northern flicker, Colaptes auratus, a kind of woodpecker. You've seen it before if you are a regular visitor here. They always seem to like my lawn. This one is a female.

yellow-shafter flicker

It's easy to tell because males have a large black "mustache," which this bird does not have. Maybe I'll get lucky and have a male visitor who wants to pose. The focus on these pictures is much better than the ones I took in 2009, and these are from the back so you can see the red stripe on the head. You can also see one of the yellow shafts on the tail feathers. This is sometimes called the yellow-shafted flicker because of that. Flickers in the western US usually have red shafts. They used to be considered a different species, but now they are known to be regional variants of the same bird. Click one of the pictures to reach some other views that show the black bib in front.

See Two Birds and a Plan for a video of the flicker feeding
See The Flicker for a very blurry picture of a male


rainfield61 said...

It is easy to differentiate our gender, but not that for the birds.

betchai said...

oh so beautiful and so elegant there. hope the rain will bring you more good things.

jeanlivingsimple said...

I Love N. Flickers and wish I had them visit more often. Yes...I am very jealous. However...pleased that they are plentiful in your area.

Ann said...

we didn't get the rain we were supposed to yesterday and so far it's holding off pretty well today.
I've never seen one of these birds yet. I'll have to remember about the red stripe on the back of the head and the black mustache of the male. Maybe I"ll spot one :)

Unknown said...

I've never heard of a flicker before, but it's pretty. Of course, I'm not well versed on birds. What regions does it live in?

vanilla said...

Beautiful birds. Less than fun when one comes down the chimney into the fireplace. Okay, I had a cap made to prevent it in future.

Sharkbytes said...

rainfield- maybe the birds think that we are difficult to tell apart!

betchai- it's visibly greener after two days of rain. Now a little warmth and everything will pop.

Jean- the three variants are pretty much everywhere in North America. Where are you?

Doomer- you should see them in Canada in the summer. Are you eastern or western area?

vanilla- we never had trouble with flickers. When I was a kid my dad was forever trying to keep the chimney swifts out.

Unknown said...

Central. :) I'm in southern Ontario.

I really need to get a bird book, because we are going to be doing nature walks with the kids this summer. I'll try to watch for Flickers. That's a name that should appeal to our 3 year old.

Ferd said...

They like YOUR LAWN !?!
I have only ever seen them high in the tree tops!
They are beautiful birds!

RNSANE said...

Such incredibly clear photos, Joan. The bird certainly seemed comfortable posing for your camera!Perhaps he's heard that he'll be famous, appearing in a starring role on your blog!

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

CD- you should have yellow-shafted ones where you are. Happy woodpecker hunting!

Ferd- this is the one woodpecker that feeds on the ground. They like ants and other crawlies.

Carmen- one was even closer to the house today! But I didn't get outside with the camera fast enough. I was hoping it was a male, but it flew away before I could tell.

Anonymous said...

I see I'm very late with my comment to this posting but we stay on 3 acres in the foothills of the Rockies just outside of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. The Northern Flicker visits us every year around June, together with the Yellow-bellied Sap-sucker. Both beautiful birds.

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