Sunday, September 28, 2014

Northen Flicker (Pic flamboyant) on Migration

Waterloo, ON
27 September 2014

     This is the time of year when Northern Flicker Colaptes auratus is seen in groups, often quite large (in the past I have seen around twenty-five birds feeding together on the ground) on its migration south. Yesterday, I could hear a flicker calling but for the life of me I couldn't find it. Finally, I located it, perched in a tree with several Mourning Doves Zenaida macroura. I had already seen the doves but had paid them little attention since it is a very common resident species. I guess there is a lesson here - always check out everything.

     This individual is a male, indicated by the black moustachial stripe. In the yellow-shafted variant which is found in central and eastern North America this feature is black; in the red-shafted colour morph in the west it would be red. From a purely morphological standpoint one might conclude that they are different species, but they interbreed freely in zones of overlap and the offspring from such unions are fertile.
     The following dorsal angle gives an excellent view of the white rump which is a prominent feature in this species, especially in flight.

     And here it is, hanging out with some of its Mourning Dove chums!

Literature referenced:
Backhouse, F., 2005, Woodpeckers of North America, Firefly Books Ltd., Richmond Hill, ON
Bannick, P., 2008, The Owl and the Woodpecker, The Mountaineer Books, Seattle, WA
Dun, J.L. et al, 2002, Field Guide to the Birds of North America, National Geographic Society, Washington, DC
Winkler H., Christie D.A., Nurney, D., 1995, Woodpeckers, An Identification Guide to the Woodpeckers of the World, Houghton Mifflin Company, New York, NY

David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.


  1. Awesome shots of the Flickers! They are cool birds..

  2. Hello David,
    Beautiful pictures of the Northern Flicker.
    These birds I do not see in the Netherlands.

  3. Quelle chance de voir ces oiseaux et de les photographier ,c'est magnifique.
    merci aussi pour les informations
    Amitiés de France

  4. Such amazing shots !

  5. Hey David,
    What a great shots of this woodpecker. Well done!!

    Greetings, Marco

  6. Que pájaro más bonito. Saludos desde España.

  7. Since I live in an area (southern Alberta Canada) where the yellow-shafted and red-shafted overlap and interbreed I was fascinated to learn that the offspring from such unions are fertile. Very interesting! Great post.

  8. Seeing Northern Flicker everywhere was a real highlight for me when I visited the USA in 2006, and your images have brought it all back to me, David. I am a bit fond of woodpeckers! Thank you for making me smile!

    Best wishes to you both. I've started trying to implement the arrangements for 2015 recently discussed.

  9. The translation of the blogs is not optimal but I understand now from your text that this magnificent bird woodpecker is not only a dove !! I understand that wrong? I thought this was a woodpecker and a very nice too!


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