Saturday Snapshot February 23: Intrigued

Two weeks ago I posted Saturday Snapshot February 9: Flying. There I had three photos of a Red-shafted Northern Flicker in a flying sequence. My understanding is that the Red-Shafted Flicker is found in the west, while the Yellow-Shafted one in the eastern part of North America.

Well, I haven’t shown you the larger picture on that Feb. 9 post. Here let me zoom out and show you a larger view:

Red & Yellow-Shafted Flickers

See the two flickers? One Red, one Yellow (look at the tail). How can that be?

Again, the Red-Shafted Northern Flicker:


and the Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker:


Could the Yellow be a hybrid? Looking back at the first photo, its tail is tri-color there. But here, there’s only yellow.

Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker or Hybrid?

I went back to my camera… am I even looking at the same bird here? Or were there a Red, a Yellow, and a Hybrid?

No matter, I’m all intrigued with seeing them together.


Thanks to Alyce of At Home With Books for hosting Saturday Snapshots, prodding me to get out of the house to explore what nature has to offer… even in the middle of February.


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

44 thoughts on “Saturday Snapshot February 23: Intrigued”

  1. Beautiful! Thanks for pointing out the differences between the two birds. I posted some bird photos, but I wasn’t as brave as you! I took them through my kitchen window. I saw five pairs of cardinals, and it was interesting to see the differences in coloring among the males. Some of the males had darker wings. Or so it seemed.


    1. Cathy,

      I’ve never seen any Cardinals here. Guess those are mainly from the East. But with all the butterflies and nature photos you took, now I’m all curious to see your birds. I’ll stop by and take a look.


  2. Certainly a hybrid is a possibility. The Cornell site says, “The red-shafted and yellow-shafted forms of the Northern Flicker formerly were considered different species. The two forms hybridize extensively in a wide zone from Alaska to the panhandle of Texas. A hybrid often has some traits from each of the two forms and some traits that are intermediate between them.”

    There are amazing things that can happen as a result of interbreeding and genetics. The most amazing to me is the yellow cardinal. We always associate “cardinal” with “red”, but not necessarily so! Here’s a link to a lutino cardinal and an explanation.


    1. Linda,

      Thanks for the excerpt. Yes, I know about the hybrid. But just intrigued all the same to see them together here. The tri-color on the tail is so beautiful you know, that I think I like that more than the pure orange-red. And… a yellow Cardinal? That is quite a find!


  3. To me it looks like you have two birds. The first is a male Red-shafted Flicker. The second bird with the yellow shafts is a male hybrid. A yellow-shafted male would have a black moustache stripe and the one you saw had a red stripe and yellow on the wings. I think the lighting is what was making the color change on the hybrid.

    I love the way they cooperated for your photo shoot. Flickers don’t pose for me very often but a few years ago a male and female yellow-shafted stopped for a rest on my garden shed.


    1. Sim,

      Actually, I haven’t done any color editing on them. Just cropping and making them sharper a bit. Will stop by and see what’s up at Chapter 1 Take 1 as soon as I can. Thanks for leaving your comment.


  4. Arti, as you know I loved your shot of the red birdie; something I thought looked so perfect, it could have been done by Pixar. As for the yellow birdie, its shade of yellow instantly brings to mind a taxi cab. You’re to birds what The New York Times’ Bill Cunningham is to fashion on the streets of Manhattan. You both have such brilliant eyes when looking through the lens.


    1. lameadventures,

      You’re on your full humor mode, right? LOL! But thanks for your very encouraging words. I’m all motivated now to improve my amateur skill. BTW, you’ve quite an astute eye too… NYC taxi cab, indeed. 😉


  5. Curiouser and curiouser. Though what I know about birds would fit on a head of a pin with room to spare. Thanks for zooming out, though. It’s terrific you got the two varieties in the same shot.


  6. These are the most beautiful birds I’ve ever seen and your photos do them justice. I don’t know much about hybrids or birds for that matter — just what I like and I love these.

    How you must gasp when you see them! They must know that you are their friend.


    1. Jeanie,

      They were far up on a tall tree. So I was most gratified after I came home and uploaded them on the computer. I could see the general red and yellow on the different birds, that got me started wondering. It was quite an experience for sure, spotting them… and they were quite playful with each other too.


    1. Diane,

      I got this camera over Christmas, a Nikon D5100. But I think most important is the lens. These birds were way up high. I had to use a tele lens, up to 200mm. Not a great one. If you want to shoot birds close up, a 400mm gives much better results.


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