I've continued to make my rounds to local patches around this part of Sacramento County. I haven't turned up anything truly amazing but it feels good to cover ground that might not be getting covered at all.
I suppose the best bird I've stumbled on was this WESTERN TANAGER at William Land Park up in Sacramento. Although it was flagged, this species has been findable there this fall (and last winter) so it's really not all that unexpected anymore. I only managed a backlit photo from a distance:
The rock garden there is always interesting. There aren't always birds in it but the garden remains interesting! This BLACK PHOEBE stationed itself right next to the water feature; fitting for a species that is often found near water:
I hope it's widespread knowledge around here that the flicker you casually see might NOT be a pure "Red-shafted". It's actually especially easy to tell on flickers because of the red crescent that is or isn't on the nape. You can break it down like this:
If a flicker has ANY HINT of a red crescent on the nape, it's NOT a pure Red-shafted and shouldn't be called that on your checklist.So congrats, you heard a flicker and didn't eBird it as a Red-shafted because you know NO ONE can tell by calls. Or hey, you see a flicker fly by and it had reddish flight feathers... and you DIDN'T call it Red-shafted because, let's be honest, you have no idea if had a faint red crescent on the nape. You get the idea!
Taking it one step further though, I started pondering this bird from William Land Park:
I don't think this is a pure Yellow-shafted. First warning to me was the red crescent on the nape; it doesn't look as bold as it should, or at least I don't think it does (feel free to Google images of other YSFLs and compare the red on the nape). Secondly, I think some of the feather shafts, especially in the tail and outer primaries, look orangey and not the bright yellow I was looking for. Together, to me, those things point to this being some kind of YSFL backcross. So although I'm guessing a lot of birders here would call this a YSFL, I'm not comfortable with that. Thoughts? Have I lost it completely?