To describe my lifelong fascination with flight and with creatures that fly I like to echo the words of John James Audubon who in 1839 wrote of himself as "...one who never can cease to admire and to study with zeal and the most heartfelt reverence, the wonderful productions of an Almighty Creator."
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Red/Yellow-shafted Flicker cross
This photo was taken by the wife of a cousin of mine just down the road a few miles from here. It reminds me that a large part of the fun of watching Northern Flickers now (since the Red-shafted and the Yellow-shafted were "demoted" to sub-species status a few years ago) is trying to see if one individual might show marks of both types. In other words, does a particular bird show evidence of eastern "Yellow-shafted" genes finding their way into the western "Red-shafted" population? The bird in Sharon's front yard obviously has some of both. The colored feather shafts are not visible, but the red whisker mark on the side of the face would be black on the "Yellow-shafted" and the red mark on the nape would not appear on a pure "Red-shafted." So, there you have it. A "cross-breed" Flicker. Thanks for the photo, Sharon.
I still have not been in the right place at the right time to photograph a Ruby-crowned Kinglet when his ruby crown is glowing brightly, but this evening I got a little closer. As the sun was going down this lively one came to my suet feeder for a bed-time snack, and briefly showed both his crown color and yellowish feet.
Yesterday in Bend in Central Oregon I watched a Pygmy Nuthatch excavating a cavity in a dead tree, probably in preparation for the coming nesting season. Now I'm wondering if it's the male or female that does this, or both.
I post this photo (taken in early June, 2004) of a female Barrow's Goldeneye at Lost Lake in the Oregon Cascades because it relates to a current conversation among some Oregon Birders about Goldeneyes nesting in this state. On that occasion I watched several females investigating possible nesting cavities in a dead tree on the north shore of the lake.
Here's another view of the Northern Cardinal that is currently coming to a feeder near Dayton, Oregon, far from its normal range. Could it have come here on its own, and in any case, did it come from the east or from the south? Some experts say that the particular shade of red might offer a clue, as well as the length of the crest feathers on its head.
This is not a good-quality photo, but since it was taken in Oregon it is significant. There may have been earlier reports of Northern Cardinal in this state, but as far as I know none have been verified by photos. I was invited to a private residence not far from where I live in Yamhill Co. to see this bird, and sure enough... it's a Cardinal! It seems quite likely that this bird did not arrive here without human assistance, since this species is not known to be migratory. The longest distance on record (in the Audubon Encyclopedia) that an individual has been known to move from its home territory, is less than 300 miles. The population in southeastern California is almost 1,000 miles from Oregon's Willamette Valley.
At this time of the year there are always lots of Dark-eyed Juncos in my neighborhood, as in most of lowland western Oregon, and almost 100% of them are the "Oregon" form. But occasionally a "Slate-colored" shows up, and today in my own back yard it happened. The "Oregons" didn't exactly welcome him to the table, but he managed to get his share around the edges.
I wasn't at home today when the Pine Siskins showed up, but the camera shows that they "ruled the roost" while they were here. The Goldfinch (upper left) appears to be slightly larger in size, but smaller in feistiness.
Even though we are having spring-like weather these days, and daffodils are blooming, the Lesser and American Goldfinches still seem to appreciate the sunflower and thistle seeds I put out for them. I wonder why the Lessers keep their bright colors year 'round, while the Americans spend the winter months wearing drab.