Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] Intergrade (red shafted x yellow shafted) Northern Flicker, Colaptes auratus, photographed at the Black River Riparian Forest in Renton, Washington. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Michael C. Hamilton, 9 August 2009 [larger view].

Digiscoped using a Leica 77-mm spotting scope with a Nikon P6000 compact camera.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Review all mystery birds to date.


  1. #1 Bardiac
    December 26, 2009

    I don’t have my books with me, but that looks like a Flicker? Field markings: short tail, serious beak of a woodpecker. Tannish with black cross things on the back, yellow or orangy feather shafts on wings (which should be more yellow or orangy on the undersids). Red mustache, red mark on back of the head.

    Location and orangy feather shafts would lead me to guess Northern Flicker, red-shafted form.

  2. #2 Robyn
    December 26, 2009

    I agree with Northern Flicker, but I’d actually guess this to be an intergrade male. I believe the malar stripe is only found on the males. Black in yellow-shafted, and red in red-shafted. However, the red on the nape is never present in red-shafted, only yellow, so the combination of the two leads me to think of hybridization.

  3. #3 Tabor
    December 26, 2009

    I have these fellows in my woods…but not the hybrid…just the red-shafted. They are a little shy but pretty noisy.

  4. #4 zoo713
    December 27, 2009

    I agree with Northern Flicker, and I did find a one-sentence blurb in a book that mentioned the red- and yellow-shafted morphs will hybridize, especially on the western end of their range, but saw no pictures of a hybrid. The red moustache and brown foreheadindicates a red-shafted, but the red nape says yellow (as all ready mentioned) – gotta’ be a hybrid.

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