Male Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker --------     

The Northern Flicker is a woodpecker we see here mostly between October and May, although a few nest in the area. Their usual breeding range is further north in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and all over Canada. Their preferred diet is ants, other insects, berries, and fruits and it is not unusual to see them feeding on the ground. In the eastern and central part of the country the “Yellow-shafted” is common and the males are easily to identify by their black malar mark and golden yellow flight feathers and underwing linings.

Intergrade between Red-shafted and Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker

The “Red-shafted” nests in the western US and southwestern Canada. Their feathers are orange-red on the underside of their wings and the males have a red malar mark on their face. Last Saturday I saw for the first time a bird with a red malar mark near our house and learned quickly that intergrades between Yellow-shafted and Red-shafted are not uncommon. The flicker in the second picture shows clearly the red malar mark but has also the yellow feathers.

You know that I’m always raving about the great light for bird photography when we have snow on the ground. The first picture was taken yesterday while it was still snowing. A hint of flash in addition brings out the colors very nicely. Easy shot.

The second photo was made before the snow and with a gray overcast last weekend. In order to make this image, while the woodpecker was still on the tree trunk, I had to shoot through the glass door of our balcony. Understandably using flash for color improvement was not an option. I cranked the ISO up to 2000 (Yiiiks!) for this documentary shot and got at least a sharp enough image for posting here in my blog.