Friday, February 11, 2011

The Astonishing Red-Winged Blackbird

I love birds, some much more than others. The bluebird is so special that for me it's beyond description. The robin, that harbinger of Spring, is another favorite. I love gentle birds and colorful birds and birds that fly on the unusual side. That's why I've never been a fan of the red-winged blackbird.

It seems like when I was young, sighting one of these was worthy of note. But in this era, I see them everywhere. Nothing special or unusual about them at all. In fact, really aren't they just blackbirds with a little color on their wings? Not so much. In fact they're so much more and I discovered this while walking around Striebel Pond, the flood basin where I spend endless hours walking and taking pictures.

The Male
The Female
The first surprising thing I noted was that they have a beautiful song especially haunting in the evening.

And then, I found them to be so friendly! They'd flit from tree to tree and post to post just to keep up with me as I walked. What photographer wannabe wouldn't love a wild creature that poses for rather than flees the camera.

And sometimes they'd playfully ruffle their feathers for me.

But while I was researching for this post, I learned a surprising fact in "Males have been known to swoop humans who encroach upon their nesting territory during breeding season. The "perched display", with wings held away from the body, is an antagonistic behavior of the Red-winged Blackbird." (Apparently I was about a hairs breath away from capturing that ever elusive shot of a blackbird's beak closing in on my camera's lens.)

And a not so surprising fact: "The Red-Winged Blackbird can be very aggressive while defending its territory from other animals and birds. It will attack much larger birds, such as crows, ravens, magpies, birds of prey, and herons if they enter". But Wikepedia doesn't know everything. This feisty little territory protector will also attack geese. Here's proof.

They tried to act nonchalant but it's obvious the whole family was nonplussed by this surprising turn of events as they left that grassy area that belonged to a bird of another species.

Although it's a little off the subject, the conclusion I derive from this whole story is that geese aren't just annoying to humans and swans, they're also annoying to red-winged blackbirds.


  1. You've been teasing us with these all week! The pics are awesome. Very clear and crisp. I can attest to the territorialness. It was a male RWB that went for my head several times while riding my bicycle on a bike trail that went too close to the tree that held his nest. Actually, it pecked the head of every single person that rode past. It was quite entertaining. Thank goodness for bike helmets! Isn't it funny how the female looks nothing like the male?

  2. wow, your pictures are spectacular! I've never seen anything like it. I never knew they were so territorial. I really get a kick out of looking at the pictures of one attacking the geese! way too funny! Great job!

  3. I love bird pictures, but I'm pretty sure you didn't take these recently with all that green. I sure do miss green. Great shots!!


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