Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Friday, February 29, 2008

Wetland Music

A large flock of Red-winged Blackbirds continues to hang out in our neighborhood. Often they fill the trees around our back yard, and their creaky conkaree songs fill the air with exotic wetland music.

This morning, around the middle of the morning, I saw several Blackbirds perched in the branches of one of the oaks in our back yard. I could hear Red-winged Blackbirds all around, so that’s what I was expecting to see, but when I looked through my binoculars a bright, pale-yellow eye looked back at me – a male Rusty Blackbird. Several other Rusty Blackbirds were perched here and there in the branches, too, black and brown splotches among the faded red-brown leaves that still cling to the lower branches of the oaks. There were four females and three males, all preening, plus a couple of Brown-headed Cowbirds.

Later in the afternoon, I watched two Rusty Blackbird males in the front yard, searching among dry leaves on the ground along with several Robins, and then flying up to sit on low, bare branches of the trees. I think this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to them, and had a beautiful view of them both, in low, slanting sunlight that lit up the highlights of their plumage. The rusty coloring looked exactly like rust – as if it lay under the glossy black feathers and was showing through. Both birds made quiet but rich and appealing calls, something like prrrt and churf.


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