First, from the vantage point of my soapbox, I hereby opine that hybrid
(or, if you prefer, "intergrade") Northern Flickers are grossly
underreported on eBird checklists from Colorado, especially east of the
mountains. What to do about it? An excellent starting point is Tony
Leukering's informative and readable (and mercifully short!) article in the
April 2018 issue of *Birding* magazine:
ABA member account required for full access. Email me if you want a PDF,
but I might not respond till after the CFO convention.
F1 (first-generation) adult male flicker hybrids are instantly and easily
designated as such. The problem is with females and backcrosses. For
example, birds like this one:
That patch of red on the nape is pretty small. But it is there! I believe
this is a backcross. The birds' wings--definitely not yellow-shafted, but
not really red-shafted, either--also indicate mixed ancestry:
My strategy for flicker ID:
1. Try to see the bird well. If you can't, just call it a Northern Flicker.
2. If you see the bird well and can't really make up your mind, just call
it a Northern Flicker.
3. If you do see evidence of hybrid/intergrade origin, enter the bird as a
Yellow-shafted x Red-shafted Flicker.
4. Only if you see the bird well enough to rule out hybrid/intergrade
origin (calling all Philosophy 101 students!), then call it Red-shafted
Flicker or Yellow-shafted Flicker; otherwise, call it a Northern Flicker.
A confession. I've been way too glib in my designations of Colorado
flickers as either Red-shafted or Yellow-shafted. It's never too late for a
New Year's Resolution, so I hereby resolve to be more careful with Colorado
By the way, I ought to note that the bird depicted above was at the Wyoming
Hereford Ranch, Laramie County, Wyoming, back on Tues. morning, May 15.
It's my favorite birding hotspot in Colorado, haha. I went there with
Andrew Floyd, and we saw 2 Blackpoll Warblers, 1 Northern Parula, 1
American Redstart, 1 Northern Waterthrush, 1 Least Flycatcher, 3 Gray
Flycatchers, 1 Veery, and 1 Bobolink. eBird checklist:
Lafayette, Boulder County
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