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The Tuesday Boulder Return of the Beakless Wonder


I think Boulder‘s beakless Flicker has returned! This survival wonder is an inspiration to all of us.

The Orange-shafted Flicker, often considered a variant or a result of hybridization between the  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Flicker/overview (Colaptes auratus cafer) and the Yellow-shafted Flicker (Colaptes auratus auratus), showcases the fascinating diversity within the woodpecker family. These birds, part of the larger group known as Northern Flickers, exhibit characteristics that are somewhat intermediate between their two parent subspecies, displaying the rich tapestry of avian evolution and adaptation. While we used to see red and yellow shafted flickers, we now see exclusively orange shafted.

Northern Flickers are unique among woodpeckers for their ground-foraging habits, primarily feeding on ants and beetles. This behavior sets them apart from their tree-dwelling cousins, showcasing an evolutionary adaptation to diverse habitats across North America. The Orange-shafted Flicker inherits this behavior, thriving in a range of environments from wooded areas to suburban parks, indicating a versatile adaptability that ensures its survival and proliferation.

Visually, the Orange-shafted Flicker can be identified by its striking plumage. While the base colors remain similar to its parent subspecies—featuring a brown body speckled with black spots, a black bib, and a white rump that’s visible in flight—it’s the coloration of the flight feathers and tail feathers that highlight its distinctiveness. The orange tinges in these areas suggest a genetic blend, making it a beautiful and unique sight in the bird-watching community.

Families of Orange-shafted Flickers, observed year-round in various locations, indicate that these birds do not strictly adhere to migratory patterns. Their presence throughout the seasons suggests a stable and thriving population, capable of adapting to local conditions and food availability. This year-round residency provides excellent opportunities for ornithologists and bird enthusiasts to study their behaviors, breeding patterns, and interactions with other species, contributing valuable insights into hybrid vigor and adaptation in avian species.

The existence of the Orange-shafted Flicker as a potential hybrid highlights the complex dynamics of avian biodiversity and the ongoing processes of natural selection and genetic mixing. It serves as a reminder of nature’s capacity for variation and the beauty that can arise from such diversity, encouraging further study and appreciation of the intricate relationships within ecosystems.

The Red Cheeks Mark This Beauty as a Male Flicker

Lenny Lensworth Frieling

Shared Knowledge is Power

Leonard Frieling Pen Of Justice Legal Blogger
  • Senior Counsel Emeritus to the Boulder Law firm Dolan + Zimmerman LLP : (720)-610-0951
  • Former Judge
  • Photographer of the Year, AboutBoulder 2023
  • First Chair and Originator of the Colorado Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Committee, a National first.
  • Previous Chair, Boulder Criminal Defense Bar (8 years)
  • Twice chair Executive Counsel, Colorado Bar Association Criminal Law Section
  • NORML Distinguished Counsel Circle
  • Life Member, NORML Legal Committee
  • Life Member, Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
  • Board Member Emeritus, Colorado NORML
  • Chair, Colorado NORML, 7 years including during the successful effort to legalize recreational pot in Colorado
  • Media work, including episodes of Fox’s Power of Attorney, well in excess of many hundreds media interviews, appearances, articles, and podcasts, including co-hosting Time For Hemp for two years.
  • Board member, Author, and Editor for Criminal Law Articles for the Colorado Lawyer, primary publication of the Colorado Bar Assoc. 7 Years, in addition to having 2 Colorado Lawyer cover photos, and numerous articles for the Colorado Lawyer monthly publication.
  • LEAP Speaker, multi-published author, University lectures Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, Denver University Law School, Univ. of New Mexico, Las Vegas NM, and many other schools at all levels.
  • http://www.Lfrieling.com
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