Photo of the Day #870: Red-winged blackbird


A male red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), photographed in Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware.

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One of my favourite birds.

When I was a kid, we lived for three years at Death Valley in California. My Dad was a Park Ranger.

One day, a visitor walked into the Visitor Center. Dad (the supervisor) was covering lunch for a seasonal. The visitor was excited and said, "I just saw the most incredible bird I've ever seen. Can you tell me what it is?"

Dad asked, "What did it look like?"

"Well, it was a black bird with a bright yellow head."

Dad replies, "That would be a Yellow-Headed Black Bird."

Whereupon the visitor began yelling at Dad, accusing Dad of mocking him, and demanded to speak to his supervisor. Dad said okay and went into the ranger's office. He gave a bird book to one of the older seasonals and told him to pretend to be the supervisor and please show the irate Texan (not sure if the visitor was from Texas or not, but it fits) the drawing of the YHBB to prove that Dad was not making fun of him.

It worked.

Every time I see a red wing or yellow headed black bird I flash on that story.

Nice photo.

The redwings show up in late February or early March every year - it means spring's on the way. This year, though, when they showed up there was still 20" of snow - maybe more - on the ground. They sat on their trees and called, but I know they must have been wondering just what the hell had happened.

Ive had a small flock of a dozen or so of those down here most of the winter. I put out feed daily and have a bird baths with a dripper. The combination seems to bring in birds from all around.

I figure I have better than fifty birds as regular visitors and hundreds more that just drop in.

My hometown: Red Wing, MN. The Mississippi flows through the wide valley via sloughs full of swarms of red wing blackbirds & waterfowl.

A favorite song: morning has broken...blackbird has spoken...