I’m writing this blog as Staff Naturalist for Shoshone Village, California 92384. Shoshone is a very small town.
WOODPECKERS OF THE AMARGOSA
CLICK HERE TO SEE MY VIDEO OF LADDER BACKED WOODPECKER
|LADDER-BACKED WOODPECKER RANGE MAP|
|Nuttal's Woodpecker Owens River|
Northern Flickers seem to arrive first in the fall, and their “keer” call can be heard throughout the day. They will be present all winter into early spring. Often seen on the ground, and a major predator of ants, they’re known as Red-shafted Flickers for the display of red feathers from the underside when the wings opened. They must be more commonly preyed upon by hawks during the winter than other birds, because each spring, in my travels I’ll find the orange-red feathers in shady places. I’ve found many almost full sets of red flight feathers in such “kill spots”.
The Northern Flicker has a huge range in North America. From Newfoundland to Alaska, in the north and from Cuba to the Pacific Coast and as for south as CostasRica, , Flickers are common and prolific.
In the east they are Yellow-shafted Flickers. In the midwest the flight and tail feathers begin to be more orange, then more red in the west. They are all of the same species. Occasionally, a Northern Flicker yellow-shafted is reported in this area. I was really jealous last winter when, while working at Shoshone’s Crowbar Restaurant, my friend Terri showed me in a plastic bag, a set of yellows that she had found! Finally in spring of 2015, I finally found a set of yellows!!
Notice how the shafts of the feathers have been clipped by the beak of a hawk. Also here you can see the special shape of the “designed for strength” tail feather. (Black tipped)
Red-naped Sapsuckers and
Red-breasted Sapsuckers are both found around Shoshone in fall and winter. The trees around Shoshone Village, Shoshone Campground, the Death Valley Academy, and Shoshone Birding Trails and China Ranch, are all good spots for wintering woodpeckers.
It’s always special to see a Lewis’s Woodpecker. A pink-breasted iridescent black-bodied woodpecker whose behavior and flight patterns seem different than the others.
The only woodpecker known to do “flycatching” , a mid air grab of an insect , then returning to the original perch, they are also the only woodpecker known to perch on a wire! They are occasionally found in surprising numbers. Although I have only ever seen individual Lewis’s Woodpeckers, I have heard a credible first hand report of 35-40 of them in one tree during migration in Furnace Creek in nearby Death Valley National Park.
I recently got these great shots of Lewis’s Woodpecker at nearby (90 miles is nearby for around here!) Spicer Ranch in Beatty, NV.
Thanks to Dave Spicer for showing me the great birds there.
More on Woodpeckers later.
References: Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Nevada 2007 University of Nevada Press , Reno
Frances Backhouse, Woodpeckers of North America,Firefly Publishing, 2005