[birding] Possibly 2 intergrade flickers at Corvallis Hospital

Joel Geier joel.geier at peak.org
Thu Oct 22 17:52:12 PDT 2015


Hi Evan,

Thanks for this report! Intergrade flickers are fun to ponder for at
least a few of us, I'd guess ... and thanks for giving a good
explanation for folks who might be wondering what you mean. 

I'm pretty sure that at least one other local birder is going to be
interested (Hint: his e-mail address contains the word "woodpecker" and
the Corvallis zip code, and he wrote the species account for flickers in
"Birds of Oregon: A General Reference," plus I think you might have run
into him at Malheur recently ;-) ). I've also cc:d Steve Shunk, author
of the upcoming Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North
America, who lives just over the hill from us near Sisters.

On your question about asymmetrical malar markings on intergrades: This
is not something that I've ever observed. A caveat is that often it's
difficult to get a good look at both sides of a single flicker! But my
hunch is that these would normally be symmetrical, as feather groups
governed by a particular gene. Hopefully Jamie or Steve can comment if
they've heard of examples otherwise.

Barring that, I'd guess that you saw two different intergrade flickers.
>From 15+ years of paying attention to flickers at E.E. Wilson Wildlife
Area (a site that gets high numbers of migrant flickers every winter),
my very rough estimate is that about 1 or 2 in 100 wintering Northern
Flickers are pure Yellow-shafted Flickers, and about 5 to 10 out of 100
are intergrades. 

It seems like the intergrades and pure Yellow-shafted Flickers occur in
"clumps," perhaps groups that migrated into this area together. So the
odds of finding two intergrades in close proximity might be higher than
you'd guess from the overall frequency.

Hopefully others will chime in if they have more and/or better info. But
meanwhile thanks for sharing your keen observations and good description
of what you saw. One great thing about flickers, we always have plenty
of them around, and like Red-tailed Hawks, the more you look at them,
the more interesting they get.

Also, thanks for calling attention to that spot at the north end of
Satinwood Road. I've also birded that spot while hanging out around the
Corvallis Clinic/Samaritan medical complex, and it always seems to be
pretty birdy. 

I'd guess many if not most of the folks on this list will end up
spending time up on Corvallis's "Pill Hill," while family members or
other loved ones undergo treatment. It's good to have a place like this
where you can go to refresh your mind and see a few birds, outside of
the otherwise mostly sterile hospital environment!

Happy birding,
Joel

On Thu, 2015-10-22 at 14:36 -0700, Evan Centanni wrote:
> For those interested in such things: Yesterday at Samaritan Hospital about
> noon, I found 1 and possibly 2 INTERGRADE NORTHERN FLICKERS (that is,
> hybrids between Red- and Yellow-shafted subspecies).
> 
> The location is at the dead end of Satinwood Rd., across the parking lot
> from the front of the Corvallis Clinic (map location available on eBird).
> The first sighting was actually from the western rim of the parking lot,
> looking into the trees toward the area just past the end of Satinwood. I
> got a clear view of a perched flicker with very yellow feather shafts on
> the upper side of the wings, a red crescent across the nape, and brown
> rather than gray around the face - all marks of a Yellow-shafted Flicker,
> except that it also had the bright red malar stripe of a Red-shafted.
> 
> Fast forward about 20 or 30 minutes, and I was at the actual dead end of
> Satinwood St., looking north into the same general area, when I spotted
> what may have been a second intergrade flicker. This one had a black malar
> stripe (with narrow red margins), brown face, a red nape crescent that
> appeared to be less distinct than that of the first sighting, and what I
> thought, for a brief instant at least, were pink feather shafts on the
> wings.
> 
> However, in the end I couldn't be sure whether these were two different
> individuals - the malar stripes were different, but I saw only the left
> side of the face the second time, and couldn't quite remember if I'd seen
> more than the right side of the face the first time. The actual location of
> the bird was also very close to the same spot (perhaps even in the same
> exact tree?) for both sightings, despite the locations I was standing at
> being a hundred feet or more apart.
> 
> Does anyone know whether it's normal for an intergrade individual to have
> assymmetrical marks? Or whether it would be surprising to have more than
> one intergrade Northern Flicker in close proximity?
> 
> Happy birding!
> 
> Evan Centanni
> West of Monmouth
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