Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Red-winged Blackbird Nest

Each spring we look forward to the return of the Red-winged Blackbirds, Agelaius phoeniceus, to our wetland. The males usually show up in early March, singing their "Con-cur-ee" song, announcing to all the ladies that they have aquired some prime real estate for nesting.

Above is the male Red-winged Blackbird, a real looker with his jet black feathers accented with scarlet epaulettes trimmed in yellow.
This is the female. She is also a beautiful bird, but very camouflaged. This is so she can blend in with the nest and not be noticed by predators. She builds a nest from grasses and reeds and tucks it down among the cattails. It is hard to spot the nest at first, but by careful observation, one can determine where she has hidden it.
The nest is almost dead center in this photo. I don't expect you to find it, but wanted to show how well they can hide the nest. Many times I would go out to check on the nest and not find it right away, even though I knew exactly where it was. 

And here is the nest, closeup with the baby Red-winged Blackbirds. They were just starting to get their feathers. When they get their full set of feathers, they will at first all look like the female.  The young males will eventually get an orangish patch on their shoulder. Hopefully, they will all make it to adulthood and we will enjoy their song for years to come. 


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