Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Feather for Packrat


On April 1, fellow blogger Desert Packrat (desertpackrat.blogspot.com) posted an image of a feather he had run across in his peregrinations in the Chihuahan Desert outside Las Cruces, New Mexico.  I suggested that the feather had come from the tail of a Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker (Colaptes auratus).  Packrat replied that he had observed flickers at his home high in the Sacramento Mountains east of Las Cruces, but never in the low desert.

During a walk last evening, Kali and I came across the shed tail feather of a Northern (Yellow-shafted) Flicker, the eastern counterpart to the western red-shafted form.  Packrat's and my feathers are identical except for coloration.  Though he may never have seen one in the low desert, I'm reasonably certain that a flicker had shed a tail feather in Packrat's desert.

10 comments:

Carolyn H said...

Scott: Very cool!

packrat said...

Scott:

Your post sent me back to my April 1st blog post to inspect that feather again, and I have to admit they are strikingly similar. I think you nailed it, Holmes.

http://desertpackrat.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2013-04-05T11:46:00-07:00&max-results=7&start=7&by-date=false

Jain said...

Cool, indeed! I've long thought there should be a guide to bird feathers and now I see there is: http://www.amazon.com/Bird-Feathers-American-Species-Ornithology/dp/0811736180/ref=lh_ni_t?ie=UTF8&psc=1&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER. Haven't seen it yet but it looks good.

Thanks for the shoutout at Bankside. That was my last post as I go through some changes. There will probably be another blog from another place in the coming months.

Scott said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Packrat. There may be birds flying far overhead, shedding feathers all the time, that we don't even know about.

Scott said...

Thanks for the link to the bird feathers guide. We've got a guide to nests, eggs, and nestlings that I consult frequently in the office, and I find that book invaluable, so this guide will make a good accompaniment.

Give all your "Bankside" readers a shout-out when you dip your toe back into the blogosphere, Jain. I (for one) miss hearing from you.

Scott said...

Carolyn: The feather IS cool. We shouldn't have picked it up and brought it home with us (technically, it's illegal--except that I could get away with it because our organization has a USFWS salvage permit), but the yellow was so striking, we couldn't help ourselves.

packrat said...

Scott: I do believe I posted the wrong link to the feather photo on my blog. Here is the correct one:

http://desertpackrat.blogspot.com/2013/04/summer-like-spring-day.html

Jain said...

Thanks a lot, Scott, I'll post something when I'm back up and running.

robin andrea said...

I sometimes check this site when I've found a feather I can't identify:
http://www.lab.fws.gov/featheratlas/index.php
I'm not sure how useful it is, but it does have some info.

Alonzo said...

This is cool!