Saturday, January 07, 2006

10. Northern Flicker

This morning, while there were a bunch of Juncos, Finches, and Dove around the feeders, I noticed an odd-looking bird sitting two houses over, on the peak of the neighbors' roof. It didn't look quite like a dove, and I alerted Harper, but she didn't know what it was either. As I scrambled for my field guide, it flew to the roof of the house next door, just outside our window, and began drinking some of the standing water left there from the recent rainstorms. I snapped a few pictures--zoomed in with the digital zoom--and made a conclusive ID. A Northern Flicker.

The head confused me somewhat, and has kept me from identifying the particular sub-species. It has red markings in the back of its head like a Yellow-shafted Flicker, but also in the front, where none should appear. Furthermore, the Yellow-shafted variety should only appear East of the Rockies. However, the marking on the back--which should be visible in this photo--is indicative of the Yellow-shafted variety, and is not found on either the Gilded Flicker (a southwestern subspecies) or the Red-shafted Flicker (found West of the Rockies).

My suspicion is that this is a hybrid or "intergrade" of two different subspecies, which my field guide notes are regularly seen in the Great Plains and Southwest. Either that, or it's a subspecies not listed in my field guide.

Either way, I'm confidant of the species identification, and was excited to come across a bird I'd never seen before on my 7th day into this attempt.

Update: This is most likely a hybrid variety of the Red-Shafted Flicker.


At 11:01 PM, zellyfish said...

I saw one today in my yard in Corona Heights! Just looked it up and found your site. Was lovely, fat and healthy, poking at the ground with it's long beak. Had all grey and black though, didn't notice any color. Noticed the black polka dots and black triangle breast and what looked like stripes on it's back but I assume they were polka dots.


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