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Posts Tagged ‘flicker’

Most woodpeckers are black and white in color with occasional pops of red. The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus), however, has an amazing assortment of colors and patterns, like this handsome one that I spotted on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The flicker spent most of its time on the back side of the tree, but I waited patiently and eventually it popped out for a moment into the light and I was able to capture this image.

In the United States, today is Thanksgiving Day, a day set aside for giving thanks for all of the blessings in our lives. I am truly blessed in so many ways. As I get older, I am growing increasingly conscious of the fact that every single day is blessing in and of itself—tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.” Happy Thanksgiving.

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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On Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it was fun photographing this colorful Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) feasting in a field of sumac. The muted tones of the sumac really help the female flicker to stand out in this image, particularly because she turned to the side and revealed the patch of bright red on the nape of her neck.

In case you are curious, I can tell that she is a female, because she lacks the black “mustache” stripe that is present with males. If you want to see a male Northern Flicker for the sake of comparison, check out my post from December 2020 entitled “Flicker in December.”

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Have you ever noticed the different ways that birds take to the air? Some of them flap their wings and seem able to almost levitate themselves as they rise vertically. Others make a running start in order to gain additional momentum before they lift off. No matter how they do it, the birds have to coordinate a complex series of small actions by their various body parts for a takeoff to be successful.

On Tuesday I was observing this Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, when it decided to depart without warning. Instinctively I pressed the shutter and was able to capture this fun little photo. It looks like the first step in the takeoff process for this flicker was to leap from the branch and then perhaps glide a bit before engaging its wings.

Northern Flickers always fascinate me. I cannot help but marvel at the amazing combination of colors and patterns on the bodies of these woodpeckers whenever I see one.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) have so many different colorful patterns that they sometimes remind me of patchwork quilts. If I were to be dressed in clothing with dots and stripes and patterns, I probably would look really weird, but somehow the flickers pull it off amazingly well. Compared to other woodpeckers, the flickers are fashion stars.

In addition to the patterns, they also have pops of accent colors, like the red on the back of the head, a black mustache, and bright yellow on the inside of the wings. (If you click on the image to see the details, you get a tiny glimpse of that bright yellow on the edge of the lower wing.)

I spotted this handsome male—females do not have the black mustaches—during a recent visit to Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Believe it or not, I don’t spend all of my time observing the bald eagles at the refuge.

 

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the colors and patterns of Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus), like this one that I spotted on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. In the United States there are two variants of this colorful bird, an Eastern one and a Western one. The Eastern males, like the one in the image below, have a red nape, black “whiskers,” and yellow shafts on their flight and tail feathers. Western males, which I have not yet seen, do not have a nape crescent and have red “whiskers” and red-shafted tail feathers.

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I do not know much about fashion, but I am pretty sure that I could not pull off wearing an outfit that combined stripes and dots. Somehow, though, the combination works well for this male Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) that I spotted yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  This Northern Flicker goes even further by adding a bright red crescent across the back of his head.

Unlike most other woodpeckers that are content to wear black and white and maybe a little bit of red, this Northern Flicker comes across as a bold, colorful, and stylish. I wonder why we don’t have similarly-colored penguins.

 

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most woodpeckers have simple patterns of red, black, and white feathers and it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart. The Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) outdoes them all with a dazzling combination of colors and patterns—they are pretty easy to identify.

The sky was overcast yesterday morning when I went exploring at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. I had to play around with my camera exposures and as a result the background turned almost pure white when I photographed this male Northern Flicker that had light coming from behind him. I like the effect in this case because it helps viewers to focus on the details of the beautiful bird, including the wonderful yellow feathers that you can see in the final photo. In case you are curious, I can tell that the flicker is a male because of the black “mustache” that females do not have.

There are two distinct subspecies of flickers. The ones that we have in the North and East have a little red crescent on the back of its neck, yellow underwings, and, in the case of males, a black mustache. The western flickers have no red crescent, have red underwings, and, in the case of males, a red mustache.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) have very distinctive patterns and colors, but in the early morning light this one blended in well with the bark and branches of the tree on which it was perched earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I was able to detect the bird’s presence only when it moved its head a bit from side to side. Some of my friends are able to spot birds in the trees on the basis of their shapes, but for the most part I need some movement to be able to do so.

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus), the most colorful woodpeckers in our area, prefer to eat ants and other insects. Now that the weather had gotten colder and insects are scarcer, they have switched their diet to include more berries and seeds.

Earlier this week I spotted this male Northern Flicker (males have moustaches and females do not) foraging among the clumps of poison ivy berries in a tree at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The photos give you a sense of the wonderful colors and patterns on the body of this incredible bird.

I didn’t get to see the insides of the wings of this particular flicker, but Northern Flickers on the East Coast have beautiful yellow-shafted feathers on the underside of their wings and tails. On the West Coast, Northern Flickers have red moustaches and red shafts on the underside of their wings and tails.

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Unlike most other woodpeckers, Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) like to spend a lot of time on the ground, which makes it tough to get a clear shot of one. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, “Although it can climb up the trunks of trees and hammer on wood like other woodpeckers, the Northern Flicker prefers to find food on the ground. Ants are its main food, and the flicker digs in the dirt to find them. It uses its long barbed tongue to lap up the ants.”

When I spotted this male Northern Flicker—females don’t have the black mustache stripe—last weekend at Huntley Meadows Park, it was perched horizontally on a fallen tree, which gave me a clear view of its beautiful colors and patterns. Other woodpeckers, which are mostly black and white, seem drab by comparison. For the first time ever, I was also able to see the downward curve of its bill that I had seen described in birding identification guides.

This bird remained still for only a moment and then seemed to fade away into the background.

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I was looking over some images from a few weeks ago searching for one to share, I came upon this shot of a Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) that really highlights its beautiful colors and patterns, even from a distance.

Northern Flicker

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Against the backdrop of a frozen pond with a dusting of snow, the colors of this male Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) stood out even more brightly than usual yesterday morning. The flicker is perched on a rotted stump that is poking out of the beaver pond at my local marshland park.

I love the colors and the markings on this beautiful bird, who seems to be making a fashion statement by mixing stripes and polka dots and accenting the ensemble with touches of bright colors.

flicker1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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