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March 5, 2011 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Red-winged Blackbird

Another familiar North American bird is the Red-winged Blackbird. They are short distance migrants and southern and western populations may not migrate at all. They return to the Chicago area in early March and immediately make their presence known. The male will sit high on trees and shrubs singing all day long. The females are much quieter and not as easily seen.

Red-winged Blackbird Male

The male is glossy black with brilliant red and yellow patches on his shoulders. I took this photo last spring at my favorite birding spot. Blackbirds were everywhere and singing so loudly they were drowning out the songs of other birds. This guy was desperately trying to attract the attention of a female sitting in the next tree.

The picture below is the female he was calling to. Females are streaky brown and from a distance can be mistaken for a large sparrow. Often the male and female of the same species can look quite different. She didn’t look very interested in his attention. After about 10 minutes she flew away. He just kept singing.

Red-winged Blackbird Female

A few weeks later I came across a pair building a nest in the brush. You will know that’s what they are doing because the female will be carrying large clumps of dried grass in her beak and the male will screech at you, buzz your head and try to attack you.

Hearing the blackbirds is always a welcome sound because for me it means spring has arrived.

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Saturday Snapshots is hosted by Alyce. Head on over to At Home With Books to see more great photos or add your own.

25 Comments

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  1. Col (Col Reads) / Mar 5 2011 8:34 am

    Beautiful shots!

    Like

  2. Sheila (Book Journey) / Mar 5 2011 8:42 am

    What great pictures of these birds! They are gorgeous!

    Like

  3. TheBookGirl / Mar 5 2011 8:48 am

    So pretty…The comparison between the male and female appearances is so striking; the female’s plain brown appearance seems to go with her personna of sitting in the shadows while her male counterpart soaks up all the limelight 🙂

    Like

  4. laurelrainsnow / Mar 5 2011 9:01 am

    It amazes me how the male birds are so much “prettier” than the females; intriguing, isn’t it? I love your shots. You really capture the detail wonderfully.

    Here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT

    Like

    • Leslie / Mar 5 2011 6:31 pm

      Males are ‘showy’ to attract a mate. Females that nest in the open are often dull colored to blend in and stay safe.

      Like

  5. Esme / Mar 5 2011 10:07 am

    What great shots and what a distinction between the male and the female birds.

    Like

  6. Trish / Mar 5 2011 10:13 am

    I love how the male is puffing up his lovely red shoulders.

    Like

  7. bermudaonion / Mar 5 2011 10:15 am

    You continue to amaze me with your bird photos. I lust after a zoom lens whenever I see them.

    Like

  8. Debbie / Mar 5 2011 10:15 am

    We have them in Nevada too…. I love to see them each spring.

    Like

  9. Bev@My Reader's Block / Mar 5 2011 10:39 am

    Love your bird pictures every week. She certainly doesn’t seem too interested in what he’s singing. Maybe he should try a little different rhythm?

    Here’s my Snapshot: http://myreadersblock.blogspot.com/2011/03/saturday-snapshot-march-5.html

    Like

  10. Sassy B. / Mar 5 2011 11:37 am

    I’m in awe of these shots. I have the darnedest time photographing birds.

    Like

    • Leslie / Mar 5 2011 6:32 pm

      Birds are tough because they don’t stay still.

      Like

  11. Sherrie / Mar 5 2011 11:57 am

    Hi!
    I’m waiting for the robins to come back. That’s my sign spring is here. Beautiful birds. Have a great day!

    Sherrie
    Just Books

    Like

  12. Rebecca Rasmussen / Mar 5 2011 12:19 pm

    Oh how I love those blackbirds! Wonderful photos this week! 🙂

    Like

  13. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Mar 5 2011 1:30 pm

    He’s a beauty!

    Like

  14. Suko / Mar 5 2011 2:07 pm

    What gorgeous photos, Leslie! I’m wondering if you sell these? They are fantastic shots.

    Like

    • Leslie / Mar 5 2011 6:34 pm

      No, I haven’t tried selling any of them… yet. I’m trying to get a quality picture of a selection of birds and then maybe someday. I do think I’m going to frame these two.

      Like

  15. dyane / Mar 5 2011 3:15 pm

    great shots again! I like the comparison between the male and female in one blog post …makes it easy for the rest of us.

    Like

  16. mostraum / Mar 5 2011 5:07 pm

    Beautiful birds. They are so hard to take good pictures of, so I really appreciate it when someone manages to do it.

    Like

    • Leslie / Mar 5 2011 6:36 pm

      It takes a lot of patience and standing around waiting for the birds to get just the right shot. I usually take about 10 shots of each bird to get one or two good ones.

      Like

  17. Simcha / Mar 5 2011 5:12 pm

    Wow, what beautiful photographs!

    Like

  18. Leslie / Mar 5 2011 6:38 pm

    Thanks everyone for your nice comments. I enjoy photographing birds and sharing them with all of you.

    Like

  19. Alyce / Mar 5 2011 11:54 pm

    I envy you your bird watching time and your gorgeous bird photos! I’ve always loved watching for birds but haven’t ever really gotten into it seriously enough to get book guides. Maybe when my kids are older and stop scaring the birds away. 🙂

    Like

  20. Jenni / Apr 10 2011 5:10 pm

    We both participated in the WP 5k. I’m so glad I looked at your lovely blog. I’ve lived in Spain for ten years and it was a thrill to see your close-up of a redwinged blackbird.

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. Weekend Birding: Red-winged Blackbirds Have Returned « Under My Apple Tree

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