Friday, May 7, 2010

Northern Flicker

The Northern Flicker has been very common this year. I have seen one a week, at least, throughout the Fall, Winter and Spring.  They are quite a big woodpecker and very brightly colored. The Northern Flicker of Newfoundland is a yellow-shafted variety. They can be heard calling, singing and drumming on trees, chimneys or eaves.
Yesterday, I went birding around the ponds and rivers in St. John's. There was not much to be found but I did see two Northern Flickers at Bowring Park. In addition to that, I walked at least 5K. Walking with a purpose is so much more engaging than just walking for the sake of walking. Even when birding is not great, there is always something to photograph. (I digress.)

From a distance, this bird can be easily identified by its long, slightly curved beak. If the lighting is right, the red patch on the crown of its head will shine.  The male has a black molar coloring an a red crescent on the nape. The three pictures above are males.
The female does not have the black molar and red nape. The two pictures above show two females at different times of the year. Most birds change their appearance with the seasons, just like people.
Even though the quality of the two images below is not great, the pictures do show the size and brightness of the yellow shaft. If a large bird flies by quickly and flashes bright yellow, it is likely a Northern Flicker.
In addition to the Northern Flickers, I did find something special at Branscombe Pond in Mount Pearl.  I found a family of nine Mallard Duckling. They would not stay in a straight line. Like most babies, they were eager to explore the shoreline and go off on their own. They followed me around the water's edge.
There will be a lot of this to see in the days to come.  The Mute Swans at Kennie's Pond have set up home and will likely have little goslings soon.

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