Wednesday, January 22, 2014

flicker caught flickering

Now, that's yellow.

When you think of yellow plumage, you think goldfinch or yellow warbler or maybe the vanishing evening grosbeak. You don't generally think woodpecker, after all, they are black and white and red, right?

That's why I love the above photo of a Northern flicker in flight recently sent to me by Joy Baker. 

A flickering fire of  Y - E - L - L - O - W  !   

Now you see it, now you don't.

That's because the modest yellowhammer of Alabama fame keeps its dazzling yellow, its flicker, hidden under a spotted tawny, beige wrap.

Curiously, not all flickers are yellow underneath. They occur in two distinct sub-species that intermingle and produce mixed clutches where their ranges overlap.

wiki media
The Yellow-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus auratus) resides in eastern North America: Texas and Great Plains east to Atlantic Coast. They are yellow under the tail and underwings (like Joy's photo) and have yellow shafts on their primaries. Colaptes comes from the Greek verb colapt, to peck. Auratus is from the Latin root aurat, meaning "gold" or "golden" and refers to the bird's underwing.

The Red-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus cafer) resides in western North America. They are red under the tail and underwings and have red shafts on their primaries. 

Thanks for the use of the top photo, Joy! 

Yellowhammer's yellow-shaft

1 comment:

Dorothy said...

Beautiful pictures of the Flicker! I get very excited when I see one of these! I've never seen a feather like that, part yellow and part striped.