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Friday, January 9, 2015

Feather puzzle #2

These are the first feathers I found (below).  They were scattered on the ground, but I lined them up for the photo.   

Do you have a guess about which species of bird they belong to? 

The largest feather is about 4.5 cm (1.75 inches) long and the smallest is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) long.

The patterning on the feathers made me think of one group of birds, but I couldn't be certain.  So I looked around for more clues.  

I finally found a different type of feather and it surprised me a bit.  I was right about the family, but I hadn't yet considered the species.

The next photo might give the answer away, so if you want to keep trying with the first feathers, don't scroll down until you're ready.

And this is what it looked like when I flipped it over:

Scanning around, I found one other feather type:

Did you guess Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)?  

The bright yellow coloration gives it awayalthough some of you probably know that the more common form of Northern Flicker in this area has red or salmon coloration on its feathers instead of yellow.

The next question is, what types of feathers are these, especially the first ones?  Can you picture where they might be found on a flicker?

The smaller, black-and-white feathers are uppertail-coverts.  The Birds of North America account includes a great description of them: "Uppertail-coverts are diversely patterned, white with black bars, chevrons, 'horseshoes,' or other marks (Short 1982)."

The middle photos highlight a long, pointed tail feather dominated by yellow on its underside.

And the last photo is a secondary featherone of the inner wing feathers.

Unfortunately, I realized that I don't have a good picture of a Northern Flicker.  :/  But you can see all three feather types in these illustrations:

Those first feathers had my mind twirling.  That was a fun puzzle!

P.S.  I read that possible predators of flickers include accipiters (e.g., Cooper's Hawks), Red-shouldered Hawks, and Northern Harriers.


Purslane said...

No doubt you are familiar with this remarkable tool: http://www.fws.gov/lab/featheratlas/index.php

John W. Wall said...

Ha ha. I was just going to mention the feather atlas too. It's a great resource when the clues are not so good.