Monday, March 28, 2016

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.

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4 comments:

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.