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It’s all in what they eat

Yellow-shafted flicker woodpecker

Yellow-shafted flicker woodpecker

The Yellow-shafted flicker, a type of woodpecker found in eastern Canada and the northeast United States, has more recently been seen sporting a few red feathers. that anomaly left scientists wondering: had they been interbreeding with its western cousin, the Red-shafted flicker?

Not so.

It was simply that their diet had changed. The Yellow-shafted flicker has taken a liking to eating the red berries of the honeysuckle plant, creating a ‘temporary’ feather colour change. Which leads to another interesting twist in nature, for many birds, including the Yellow-shafted flicker woodpecker, use colour to signal fitness which in turn may impact mate selection.

 

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