Sunday, August 28, 2011

Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker is one of the larger and more common woodpeckers in North America. There are two subspecies: Yellow-Shafted and Red-Shafted, and then the separately categorized Gilded. All provide plenty to appreciate.

In the West we see the Gilded and Red-Shafted Flicker. At first I assumed the name had something to do with the birds' mustaches, since the males have red and the females have the same mustard color seen on their heads. I figured the sexes looked alike and so red-mustache = Red-Shafted and mustard mustache = Gilded. The name actually refers to the rachis, or stem portion of the feathers, which are normally a lightish yellow (on the Gilded) but are a bright red on the Red-Shafted. The mustaches and the heavily speckled breast contribute a very nice, nuanced beauty to this large bird, and I always enjoy seeing them.

This female red-shafted flicker is engaging in typical flicker behavior. Flickers often dig into the ground, under or around rocks and roots in search of ants, beetles, or grubs. It must be easier then pecking wood.
                                                                I love the polka-dots

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