Friday, January 12, 2007

Backyard Birds - Gilded Flicker

Gila Woodpeckers are year-round residents of our neighbourhood. Four of them feed in my patio regularly. During the summer, they brought their babies in and fed them orange bits and seeds. I was looking out the window early yesterday morning and noticed that one of the woodpeckers was different. I was kind of bleary-eyed, but awake enough to realize it wasn't a Gila Woodpecker.
Gila Woodpecker; Gilded Flicker

I photographed the bird through the kitchen window, because I didn't want to frighten it. When I uploaded the photos, I found this flight shot showing a dark gold underwing.
Sparrow; Gilded Flicker

I remembered a similar bird recently posted on a friend's blog. t. beth of Firefly Forest described and beautifully photographed a Northern Red-Shafted Flicker a few days ago at a location about half a mile from where I live. However, the bird in our yard had a golden underwing, rather than the red of the local Northern. I did a little research and was delighted when I realized that the new visitor eating from the suet block must be a Gilded Flicker (Colaptes auratus mearnsi).
"Like the Northern Flicker, the Gilded Flicker is a medium-large, conspicuous bird, often seen on the ground. Flickers have brown backs with black, horizontal barring. The breast features a large, black crescent and the undersides are speckled. Gilded Flicker compares with the subspecies of Northern Flicker in several ways: Like the Red-shafted subspecies, Gilded Flicker has a red malar stripe, gray throat, and gray ear-coverts. These are in contrast to Yellow-shafted, which has a black malar stripe, tan throat, and tan ear-coverts. Gilded Flicker, however, differs from Red-shafted in having a yellowish crown (hence the name "Gilded"), and yellow shafts on the primaries. Gilded Flicker is slightly smaller than both Northern Flicker subspecies, and the background color of the underside is whitish, instead of tan."
Audubon Watchlist

This morning, the flicker was back, this time on the large seed block usually frequented by Gambel's Quail, Gila Woodpeckers and Cactus Wrens. When two Gila Woodpeckers joined it, it was easy to see the differences.

Gilded Flicker (larger, and with the brown back)
Male and Female Gila Woodpeckers
(the male has the red crown)



12 comments:

John said...

It's amazing that they can cling to a concrete wall like that. I do not think I have seen a woodpecker do that before.

robin andrea said...

I love seeing the gila woodpecker and gila flicker together. It really does show how different their markings are. Both are quite beautiful. We had a northern flicker on our birdfeeder yesterday. The snow on the ground makes it harder for it to find food.

jimmy said...

So Cool! All we get here in northern MIchigan is the yellow shafted flicker...always glad to see them in the spring."YES" IT is really neat to see them cling to walls...good photos.

Snail said...

Love them! We have no woodpeckers in Australia, so this post is a real treat for me.

Pam in Tucson said...

John - I've been surprised by the birds that do cling to and then climb up the wall - woodpeckers, cactus wrens, finches commonly do. The cactus wren also shinnies up the post.

ra - I'm putting out a lot of suet-based food these days. The woodpeckers and the quail go for those first.

jimmy - I hope you post a photo of the yellow-shafted flicker some time this spring. I'd love to see the differences between the three flickers.

snail - Happy to show you these. I'm always in awe of your colourful Australian birds.

LauraHinNJ said...

I love the pic of them clinging to the wall also. Very beautiful birds.

tai haku said...

I'm really rather jealous of those of you in the USA with your regular garden visits from different woodpeckers. As far as I'm aware our only 'pecker was locally extirpated quite a while ago.

tai haku said...

OOps PS meant to complement you on these photos and those stunning cardinals from a while back too. Really nice crisp images

Cathy said...

Lovely photos.

chiefbiscuit said...

What beautiful colouring those birds have - they look like they're decked out Chanel suits!

I would love to do a bird blog as you suggest - except I don't have a digital camera so have to resort to flickr etc., which feels like cheating ...

Duncan said...

Just back at my computer catching up after time away. Great photos of really eye catching birds,Pam.

sarala said...

Beautiful birds and photos.