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Yellow Shafted Flicker

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I saw a Yellow-shafted Flicker today for the first time.

Flickers are a dime-a-dozen around here, a very common bird around the city. But in the Western half of the US all the flickers around here are Red-shafted. The Yellow-shafted just aren’t around here much. The yellow could be a migrant or be here for the winter. But it is uncommon. I’ve never seen one before.

Technically the bird is called a Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus. A distinguishing feature on the bird is a “mustache” stripe on the face on the males. Red-shafted have a red mustache, and also red feathers under their wings and undertail. Yellow-shafted have a black mustache and yellow feathers under the wings and undertail, and also a red crest on their head or red stripe on the back of the head or neck. The two types also interbreed, so hybrids are common. Hybrids can have a red crest on their head, or some other red striping on the back of the head or neck, as well as the red mustache.  Females lack all the mustache, crest or striping.

I work at an animal hospital. The Yellow-shafted came in from a local area after being hit by a car. It is being treated. It was certainly a treat to see this marvelous creature.  Its yellow under the wings was a gorgeous golden, bright and distinctive. So spectacular, while also being so common! It is a great reminder to never take anything for granted, and to never think a bird is boring. Those in the East probably think the yellows are the dime-a-dozen and would marvel at the beautiful rich red feathers.

Male red-shafted hybrid.

Beautiful red striping on back of head


Author: Kay-Kay's Bird Club

Hat-maker, Bird lover, Star gazer, Scooter rider, and Running fool.

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