Thursday, November 28, 2019

Western Red-Shafted Flicker

Northern flicker is a name for a woodpecker that used to be considered two subspecies: the red-shafted flicker and the yellow-shafted flicker. As the name suggests, the main difference is the color under the tail and wings. In the north and east, that color is lemon yellow (the yellow-shafted flicker) and in the west and south into Mexico it is rosy red (the red-shafted flicker). However, it turns out they interbreed where their ranges overlap, so they are now considered one species and called the northern flicker. The northern flicker has ten subspecies and is found in North America, Central America, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. Three of the subspecies are yellow-shafted and seven of the subspecies are red-shafted. 
This flicker stands out because of the red on the tail. I love the striated lines along the shore of Antelope Island faintly visible in the distance. 
The red on the tail stands out. The black dots on the chest were the thing that initially said "flicker" to me, as well as the bill and the shape of the head. It has some red around the eye, forehead and bill that I've not read about. The crescent shape on the upper breast also stands out. 
Last weekend I visited Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake and saw a number of northern flickers. They happen to be the subspecies known as the western red-shafted flicker which is found in western North America. They have: (a) a brown body with black bars on the back and wings; (b) red under the tail, red under the wings and red shafts on their primary feathers; (c) a beige cap (the top of the head); (d) a gray face; (e) males have a red mustache emanating from the back of the bill; (f) a crescent-shaped black patch on the upper breast; (g) a beige lower breast and belly covered with black spots; and (h) a dark tail with a white rump that is conspicuous in flight.
This photo captures the black bars on the back and the beige or brown cap. 

1 comment:

  1. I love those polka dots on the breast. What a snazzy dresser!