Friday, May 13, 2022

HUNTLEY MEADOWS - WEDNESDAY - 4-25-22 - MORE BIRDS INCLUDING NORTHERN FLICKER

I only have a few bird photos left for my next post, from the ones we saw on our walk (April 25th).  I will be sharing it next week sometime, and that will be my last until our next visit out there.  It will also include scenery, trees and fauna, and a frog.  In the meantime...
not too far away from where we saw our hawk from yesterday's post, we spotted another bird perched on top of an old tree trunk.  I have seen enough photos, along with a few sightings, to know that this was a Northern Flicker.  I don't get to see them but rarely, so this too was a very enjoyable moment.
Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) are native to North America and Canada, are migratory birds and, as you may already know, belong to the woodpecker family.  It is one of the only brownish woodpeckers and as it flies it can be recognized by a large white patch on its derriere, and the yellow under-surface of wings and tail. It has a black crescent on its chest and a patch of red at the back of its head.  I wasn't actually sure what that white patch was before, and I learned something new about this particular feathered friend.  Added note: with a little more research I found this website that gives us a reason as to why they have this white patch. 
North America has two easily distinguished races of Northern Flickers: the yellow-shafted form of the East, which occurs into Texas and the Great Plains, and the red-shafted form of the West. The key difference is the color of the flight-feather shafts, which are either a lemon yellow or a rosy red. Yellow-shafted forms have tan faces and gray crowns, and a red crescent on the nape.  You can see an article here on the differences.
Males have a black mustache stripe. Red-shafted forms have a gray face, brown crown, and no nape crescent, with males showing a red mustache stripe. Hybrids do occur and are common at the edges of these two groups’ ranges. 
The male has a black streak along each side of the throat, while the female doesn't have the black throat streaks, and the black crescent on the breast is smaller. Females are duller in color than the males.  So, I am guessing the flicker we saw today is a female?   I also read that Virginia only hosts one flicker species, the Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker which we mentioned above as being seen in the east. 
You might see a woodpecker walking on the lawn and if you are in the know, will recognize it as a flicker.  This is because they are also the only species that are ground feeders. They forage along grassy areas in search of ants and other small insects.
I think she was poking into the top of this old tree for a few tasty insects.
Moving on from our female Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker... 
we came across another beautiful bird, the Little Blue Heron.  Its life history can be read here.
It inhabits much of the Americas, and this species is found from southern California and in the south-eastern part of the US to Central Brazil and Peru. Outside of the mating season it may travel as far to the north as Canada. Despite the Little Blue heron often living near saltwater, it is mainly an inland bird. It prefers freshwater areas like ponds, lakes, swamps, marshes, and lagoons, but sometimes also occupies flooded and dry grasslands, and marine coastlines.  It feeds during the day, when its long legs allow it to wade in the water and walk slowly to find prey, often standing motionless or retracing its steps. 
I saw this bird for the first time in Florida several years ago.  We had gone on a boat ride to see the pelicans and other herons, egrets and storks also.  At night they flew to Pelican Island to roost, and several birds did in fact fly over us as we headed that way.  The captain of the boat pointed out this little blue bird in the shallows.  It was the most comical sight.  Rather than standing motionless, the bird looked like it was dancing, albeit daintily, running through the water with its wings outspread.  It was using its feet to rake the water to stir up the fish.  Its spread wings were used for shade so that it could see the fish that would normally be hidden by harsh sunlight.  This is what the captain told us and I was enchanted with our first introduction to the Little Blue Heron.  I have never forgotten that first experience.  
I am not sure what kind of duck this is but she was swimming with her family, two sweet little babies.
If you know what kind they are, please let me know.  We'll just call them the Cute Duck Family right now.

Thats all for today.  
Thanks for looking and have a great weekend!




42 comments:

  1. I don't know what this duck is either. We have Flickers that come in our driveway poking for ants. They always leave their telltale holes. I have never seen a Little Blue, what a find! We have lots of the big ones though.

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    1. Thanks Ginny, I only ever saw a Flicker in our front yard once and that's been a few years back. That's interesting about the telltale holes.

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  2. I was sure I had seen and commented on this post before. It seems not. Thank you for the feathered enchantment you have been so generously spreading around.

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    1. You are very welcome Sue, so glad you enjoyed them :) Sorry about the missing comment. I hope I didn't delete by mistake.

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  3. Nice post of the bird and ducks.

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  4. That dancing, if I understood your description, is called canopying. The flicker looks to have a white heart!!! And the duck, I think, is just a domestic duck. No particular breed.

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    1. Learned something new, thanks Anni :) And thanks for the info too.

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  5. Hello Denise,
    Love the Flicker photos, great sighting and captures. The duck may be a hybrid Mallard? The ducklings are so cute. Take care, have a great day and a happy weekend!

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    1. Thanks Eileen, I've taken note of the hybrid Mallard :) You take care and have a great day also. Our weekend was very nice and I hope yours was too.

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  6. the flickers are so pretty. the baby ducks and mama duck captured my heart

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  7. Interesting birds. Quite different looking than we have here.

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    1. Thank you Anne :) It is always fun to see birds from different parts of the world, one of the many reasons I enjoy blogging so much.

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  8. We have both red and yellow shafted flickers. Apparently there's a fair amount of inter breeding.

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  9. Very nice photos of those fowl.

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  10. What a sweet shot of that duck family. I can always count on Eileen to identify a bird! The flicker photos are great. Have a wonderful weekend Denise!

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    1. Yes, I am always appreciative of Eileen's ID's. Thanks Ellen and I hope yours was a wonderful weekend also :)

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  11. Interesting info on the birds. You know your flickers!!

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  12. Fantastic bird pictures! I always hear them, but can't see them!

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    1. Thank you Mark, I enjoy hearing them too. Don't always known which bird I am listening to but it is a very pleasant sound.

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  13. We too saw a couple of duck families yesterday on our walk at the Rhine river...so cute! Not sure I have ever seen a flicker over here..

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    1. How lovely Angie, I can imagine how pretty that scene was, including the surroundings :)

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  14. All of these are wonderful. It makes me want to go out and do some bird watching.

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    1. Thanks Ann, it is always a lovely and relaxing experience to be around the birds :)

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  15. That would have been so much fun to see the flicker and get to take pics of her! And that duck is a beauty. I have no idea though I did read Eileen and Anni's comments.

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    1. Hi Rose, it certainly was. I had a great time that day. Always grateful to Eileen and Anni :)

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  16. Wonderful photos. On occasion we'll see flickers up north. Looks like you hit the jackpot!

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    1. We certainly did Jeanie. It was a marvelous day for sightings :)

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  17. While I am not certain about the duck ID, Denise, could it possibly be a black duck? The little blue heron was a familiar water bird to us when we lived on the VA eastern shore. Thanks for the further info on the woodpecker you spotted.

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    1. Hi Dorothy and you are very welcome. I saw a picture of a black duck online but still wasn't sure, so thank you for your input :) How lovely to see these Little Blue Herons on a regular basis.

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  18. Interesting post and lovely pictures. My favorites are the blue heron, and the duck family. That's a sweet capture.

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    1. Thank you Great-Granny G :) I am happy you enjoyed and had your favorites. I loved them too.

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