[birding] Possibly 2 intergrade flickers at Corvallis Hospital
steve at paradisebirding.com
Sat Oct 24 08:09:46 PDT 2015
Greetings, Flicker Watchers,
On the subject of intergrade flickers, I'll try to be brief, but you have
touched on one of my favorite subjects!
First of all, in case you have not read my article on this subject from
Birding Magazine, you can access it at this link to my web site
In answer to one of Evan's closing questions, I agree with Joel that
aberrant plumage traits typically occur bilaterally. I have seen flickers
with a mix of yellow- and red-shafted flight feathers, as well as those
with a blended orangish color overall. I have also seen many intergrade
flickers with mixed red and black in their malar stripes. However, I can't
recall seeing any flickers with different color mixes on each side, or say,
one red and one black malar stripe. I would expect this to be somewhat
unusual, but further study may prove differently. This would take going to
a natural history museum and looking at the trays of intergrades.
On the second question, the actual number of intergrade flickers is hugely
underestimated by casual birders. Anyone who doesn't really care too much
can just call them all Northern Flickers. Beyond this, it is much easier to
diagnose an obvious intergrade than it is to diagnose a "pure" Yellow- or
Red-shafted individual. To take it one step further, it may be impossible
to pin an ID on any of these birds, other than just Northern Flicker. The
traits that show evidence of mixed parentage can be extremely subtle. That
is, you could get excellent looks at a bird that appears to be a "pure"
Red-shafted without seeing a few brown feathers in the throat or a few red
feathers in the nape.
Back to the obvious intergrades. Some researchers have said that there are
no "pure" flickers breeding in BC, and most of these birds migrate south
for winter, possibly coming into or passing through Oregon. Closer to home,
the only major study to have been done on flicker introgression in our
region (by Lester Short, about 50 years ago) showed that as many as HALF of
all our breeding flickers in WA and OR show signs of introgression. This
study examined museum specimens, allowing Short to see every detail on the
birds. Seeing them with binoculars (especially in funky light) or even
getting a couple photos often does not do the trick.
The general number of intergrades in Oregon definitely swells with migrant
northern birds in winter. Flickers often migrate in loose groups--some of
them possible sibling groups--so it is very possible to see multiple
intergrades at once. But consider this: up to half of our own flickers may
be intergrades + many if not most of our breeding flickers do not migrate +
influx of many intergrades form the north = most of the flickers in Oregon
in winter may be intergrades, so finding multiple intergrades at once may
be the rule and not the exception (as Jim elucidates).
I hope that helps. I also hope you don't mind a little self-promotion here,
but a project I have been working on *forever* has finally come to
fruition. In May 2016, my Peterson Reference Guide to Woodpeckers of North
America will be on the bookshelves. You can even preorder it at Amazon
If you buy 10, you will have 9 holiday presents covered for the next year!
If you buy 20, I will take you to a fancy dinner.
Anyway, happy flickering!
*Join Steve at the Nature Travel Network
<http://naturetravelnetwork.com/> for the best in global nature travel
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Stephen Shunk, Paradise Birding
P.O. Box 547 Sisters, OR 97759
On Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 7:47 PM, JAMES D SMITH <JDSMITHOR at msn.com> wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I have only mostly intergrade, and maybe, only intergrade Flickers here in
> the flats of Teloh-Calapooia park area. What I see is strong western
> influence with orange under wings and orange tail with yellow markings on
> the tail, sometimes a yellow feather or two in the tail, a red malar, and
> often a red "V" on the back of the head. Once I spotted several black malar
> type Flickers in a group with orange under their wings. My male supremo
> Flicker has the red "V" on the back of head, red malar, orange under the
> wings and tail with yellow markings in the black around the perimeter of
> the tail feathers. There is also another group similar in character to male
> supremo in the northern reaches of the park.
> Jim Smith
> From: birding-bounces at midvalleybirding.org <
> birding-bounces at midvalleybirding.org> on behalf of Joel Geier <
> joel.geier at peak.org>
> Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2015 5:52 PM
> To: Evan Centanni
> Cc: Steve Shunk; MidValley Birds
> Subject: Re: [birding] Possibly 2 intergrade flickers at Corvallis Hospital
> 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,
> On Thu, 2015-10-22 at 14:36 -0700, Evan Centanni wrote:
> > For those interested in such things: Yesterday at Samaritan Hospital
> > 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
> > 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
> > 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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