Bird on a Wire

Female birds in many cases are not nearly as brilliantly colored or marked as their male counterparts.  This is true of the female Red-winged Blackbird perched on the barbed wire below, which is neither black nor red-winged.  Females are streaked with gold and brown and feature a lighter eyebrow and pale breast.  Typically they exhibit yellow patches or occasionally a little bit of red on their shoulders. It is speculated that the female’s brownish coloration keeps her camouflaged, protecting her from predators while nesting.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
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Red-winged Blackbirds at Wakodahatchee

The Red-winged Blackbirds at Wakodahatchee Wetlands seemed to be very curious about all of the humans milling around.  They flitted around the boardwalks, constantly scolding us with their “o-ka-reeee” calls. I was able to get within a few yards of some of them, which allowed me to get some detailed shots of their facial features.  I found their expressions to be priceless.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
It looks like he is smiling at me.  (I bet he isn’t smiling on the inside.)
Ready to fly

Red-winged Blackbird in the Haze

Sometimes a hazy, overcast day presents a wonderful environment for shooting wildlife.  This particular day offered a very cool backdrop for this Red-winged Blackbird.  He perched in some bushes not too far away from me.  I squeezed of several shots and surprisingly, he didn’t immediately fly away. In the past Red-winged Blackbirds haven’t been cooperative at all.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Red-winged Blackbirds vs Red-shouldered Hawk

A few weeks ago my brother and I took our kids out to the Cutler Wetland to try out our new binoculars.  We watched some wading birds foraging in shallows, while the kids kept themselves busy looking through the wrong ends of their binoculars.  They ended up discovering a snake egg.  Other than the egg and the usual cast of waders, there wasn’t much else going on at the Wetland so we decided to see what might be happening on the other side of a small embankment across the road.  There we discovered a group of Red-winged Blackbirds harassing a Red-shouldered Hawk.  The hawk stood his ground stoically, as the blackbirds scolded him and dive-bombed the area around him, making sure not to get too close.  I grabbed my camera and crept in as close as I dared to squeeze off a few shots.  Eventually I got close enough that the hawk decided to relocate himself.  He turned and flew away, keeping close to the ground with several red-winged blackbirds hot on his trail, probably thinking that they had finally succeeded in warding him off.

Red-winged Blackbird harassing a Red-shouldered Hawk
Dive-bomb!
I’m ignoring you.
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

The Backyard Bird Feeder Finally Gets a Hit

Last Fall my daughter and I hung a bird feeder from the low branches of the tree in our back yard. We were excited about attracting migrant songbirds and for the next few weeks we watched through the rear sliding glass door. But nothing came. I tried changing the type of birdseed and scattered some extra seed around the yard, but nothing seemed to work. The seed would gradually disappear, but I figured it was just the wind blowing it away. Despite our bad luck we would keep refilling the seed when it ran out. A couple of times my daughter claimed that she had seen a bird on the feeder, but I wasn’t sure. Sometimes a six-year-old can mix up what they are hoping will happen with what really does. So today when she called me to the window and nonchalantly said, “There is a bird on the the bird feeder,” I figured she was probably mistaken. But when I peered out the window, there he was – A Red-winged blackbird – my first backyard bird feeder sighting and my daughter’s third.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Checking out what’s inside.

Yep, that looks good.

And it tastes good too!

I think I’ll have seconds.

Red-winged Blackbirds

Recently I have been enjoying the Red-winged Blackbirds at the Cutler Wetlands.  The males are stark black with bright red and yellow patched on their wings.  They like to cling to the cattails and belt out their lively “o-ka-leeeeee” calls.  Enjoy the photos, although the cattails turned out better than the blackbirds.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Balancing on the cattails.

O-ka-leeeeee!