Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2016-08

Common name:

Gilded Flicker

Scientific name: Colaptes chrysoides
Date: 04/02/2016
Time: 8:45am
Length of time observed: 5mins
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Female
Location: Beaver Dam Slope
County: Washington
Latilong: 37.1077,-113.9818
Elevation: ~3,000'
Distance to bird: 15' to 300'
Optical equipment: 8x42 binoculars & 600mm DSLR lens
Weather: Sunny and clear
Light Conditions: Well lit
Description:        Size of bird: Flicker-sized :)
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Woodpecker shape
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: gray and tan
(Description:)            Bill Type: Medium length dagger
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird flew over the road, with the striking golden underwings being the standout field mark causing me to stop. I always check every flicker I see on the slope, because this seems to be the best place for these birds to show up in Utah. Of note this was the only flicker seen in 2 days on the actual slope.

I watched for the bird to hopefully land which it did about 250 yards away. I snapped some quick pictures and started to move closer. It flew over a hill out of sight when I got within about 100', and that was it.

Besides the yellow underwings, the head pattern was very obvious. Light brown cap, and nape--with a "cinnamon" forehead--set against a gray cheek and rest of head--the opposite of YSFL. The bird had no marks on the malar or nape (dark or red). This combination of features is consistent with GIFL.

eBird Checklist:
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None
Behavior: Flying across desert and landing on Joshua Trees
Habitat: Mojave Desert/Joshua Tree "forest"
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
"Red-shafted" Northern Flicker: Female RSFL has tan forehead, but it does not extend to the back of the nape like this bird. It also typically lacks a more cinnamon forehead. The underwings and tail were yellow as opposed to red as well.

"Yellow-shafted" Northern Flicker: The head pattern on a YSFL is the opposite with a tan cheek/face, and a gray cap and forehead.

Hybrid "Yellow X Red"-shafted Northern Flicker: I would expect a hybrid to show a more orange underwing, but it is certainly possible for yellow. The head pattern being so starkly demarcated seems unlikely as well.

Hybrid Gilded X Red-shafted Flicker: Apparently fairly common in certain areas of southeast Arizona where the species overlaps in habitat. Again, I would expect more orange underwings, and the head pattern to not be so clean.

FOR ALL SPECIES: The habitat and location is interesting as well as timing. Any of these birds are seemingly possible on the slope during migration, but the combination of field marks and location see to best fit GIFL. Given the number of reports in the last 10 years in this area, there are probably some individuals either nesting in the area, or nearby that use the slope to forage at a minimum.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have seen several GIFL in Utah and Arizona, as well as RSxYS hybrids, and many of both YSFL and RSFL.
References consulted: Sibley Guide to Birds
Description from: Notes taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Tim Avery
Observer's address:  n/a
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 05/03/2016
Additional material: Photos
Additional comments: Ebird checklist: