Photos by Susan Tait
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)
I live in Colorado, on the Western Slope, a few miles from the Continental Divide at 9000 feet in the north central part of the state. In the 16 years that I have been here, I have never seen such a bird. He was hanging onto a dead lodgepole pine in my yard, possibly killed by a combination of drought and Mountain Pine Beetle. (Much of our forest is in its last stages of life due to beetle kill. The beetles fly to living trees around June 30th.) Perhaps he arrived with the monsoonal weather patterns that we are in now and found lots of good bugs to eat.
He appeared to be falling asleep, with his eyes closed and head tilted back most of the time. At first, I thought he may have been having problems with the altitude or have been ill, since we have had issues with West Nile virus the past few years, but he eventually flew away.