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One of my favorite birds, Agelaius phoeniceus

A male Red-winged Blackbird surveys his domain from atop a broad-leaved cattail. He was one of hundreds of territorial birds in this 500+ acre Hardin County, Ohio wetland.

I spent all day yesterday in this marsh, photographing birds. Arriving well before sunrise, I knew it would be a good day when a Short-eared Owl was the first bird that I encountered, hunting atop a dike.

I managed to secrete myself fairly well in a highly productive spot, which meant that the birds did not know I was there. The advantage of that is they go about their normal business without the fear of a giant hominid affecting their behavior. This Red-winged Blackbird was displaying right outside of my hide, and I couldn't resist making numerous images.

Even though I photographed what some might regard as "sexier" species on this day - Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Wilson's Snipe, lots of waterfowl and others - I'll always point the lens at showboating Red-winged Blackbirds. The fellow in the above photo is flaring his scarlet epaulets, feathers apuff, while delivering his gurgling conk-a-ree! song, a classic sound of marshlands.

This is the object of his desire - the female red-wing. She is not nearly so flashy as he, nor even remotely as pompous. As an aside, female red-wings certainly are one of the more puzzled over birds. Many a newer birder has seen one, turned to the sparrows in their guide, and scratched their head trying to decipher its identity.

While I kept tabs on my local red-wing out of the corner of an eye, I noticed a rival fly into close proximity and take up on a nearby cattail. The other guy immediately took umbrage at the interloper, pointing his bill in the air and sleeking his feathers.

A second later, with a bow and a flourish, he turned to the invader, flared his wings, and flashed those gaudy epaulets while delivering a menacing conk-a-ree!! The point was taken, the interloper left, and our protagonist went back to wooing the girls.


JRandSue said…
Superb photography.
Sue said…
To me, the redwing is what really signifies spring way up here. Even on morning walks with temps in the teens, that voice says--- it's going to warm up!
I had no idea the female looked like that. I think she's beautiful.....Such vivid markings.
Unknown said…
Hi Jim. I live here in central Ohio and have followed your blog for a couple of years. I appreciate what you do. I love the red winged blackbird.
EIP said…
Absolutely beautiful, I love these photos, their colours are so distinctive.

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