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'Red-shafted' northern flicker        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Flickers are large, noisy woodpeckers that often feed on the ground.   In North America there are three forms: the 'yellow-shafted' in the east (2 of these images), the 'red-shafted' in the west, and the gilded flicker in southwestern deserts.   Their taxonomy is a matter of ongoing debate: sometimes they are considered as races of a single species, the northern flicker; sometimes as the northern and gilded flickers (the current consensus), and sometimes as three separate species.   All have brown barred backs, pale bellies with neat black spots and a black crescent on the chest, and brightly-colored undertails and underwings.  Most of these are western 'red-shafted' flickers; one is an eastern 'yellow-shafted' flicker.  The male (red 'mustasche') and female at upper right and the very bottom of the page were attending a nest in a dead sycamore snag in Two Trees Canyon in Riverside, California.   As can be seen in one photo, about 70 cm below the flickers' nest hole was an active nest of Nuttall's woodpeckers.   The other flickers, including the nestlings were photographed in aspen groves at Convict Creek in the eastern Sierra Nevada (Mono County, CA), eastern Kansas ('yellow-shafted'), and Yellowstone Park.

  • Canon 10D, 30D, 1D Mk II, or 1D4; 500 mm IS lens plus 1.4X or 2X converter or 800 mm IS lens with 1.4X converter, fill-in flash; the photo of the male above at right was taken with both 1.4X and 2X converters (2004, 2007, 2011, 2012)