Northern Red Shafted Flicker

Northern Red Shafted Flicker

Photographer: Jason Hill

Waking up early and driving to Rocky Mountain National Park on a cold and rainy International Migratory Bird Day, we started a tour of the park with some others and a ranger. Slowly, everyone else got cold and dropped out, leaving us alone with the ranger for several hours. One of the places we visited was the Alluvial Fan area. I returned a few days later and found these red shafted flickers in a tree near the west parking lot in that area. This photo shows the male bird returning to a hollowed out aspen with food for the chick. Red shafted flickers are one of few woodpecker species that migrate, and have the unfortunate distinction of being named after an ethnic slur. (Colaptes auratus cafer is their subspecies designation, which was given by Johann Gmelin in 1788. He believed that the bird was native to South Africa, which it is not, and hence named it after the Xhosa people, then known as the Kaffir. Kaffir is now considered to be an extreme ethnic slur.)