My life has a superb cast but I can't figure out the plot.
~ Ashleigh Brilliant


Monday, April 8, 2013

Red-wings sing to a postponed Spring

According to Cornell University's Ornithology Lab, "...the Red-winged Blackbird is a familiar sight atop cattails... In the North, their early arrival and tumbling song are happy indications of the return of spring.

Well amen to all that, as the Red-winged Blackbirds returned during last week's lovely balmy weather and have been noisily heralding spring among the previously silent, lonesome cattails in the field behind our house. (A tad prematurely as it turns out, since we're in the 8-12" snowband north of Casper on today's latest weather map, but bless their optimistic little hearts!) :-)


I headed out early Wednesday morning to take some pictures of them, stopping briefly to photograph the pretty sky along the way...



The cattails in the marsh were playing host to about half a dozen male Red-winged Blackbirds, who seemed happy to strike impressive poses while creating an equally impressive cacophony...



I think he's pretty aware of how handsome he is, don't you? :-)

Three amigos stop hollering long enough to eat breakfast together

They throw themselves into their performances with great panache!
(You can listen to their songs and calls here)


This guy's so into it he looks like he's about to launch himself right off his cattail!


Also according to Cornell, the boys can puff up or hide their red and gold epaulets
depending on their confidence level. So on a scale of 1-10, 
how much confidence do you reckon this guy was feeling?

Of course I had to get a couple with our house in the background...

This one really makes me smile. I think he's saying, "Hey, look at me, I'm a raptor!" :-)

21 comments:

  1. The shots are absolutely gorgeous!
    Their song makes me feel so happy..they believe in spring...they really really do!
    Jane x

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I love their song too, I find it both cheerful and spunky. :-) And I think their strong belief in spring helped steer the worst of the winter storm around us, as we'd been predicted to bear the brunt of it with 17" of snow, but that changed overnight and we "only" got about 5" of snow. (I say "only" because after temps in the 60s, not a sign of snow anywhere, flowers blooming and plants starting to leaf out, 5" of snow is still 5" too much!)

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  2. Such perfect captures, Laurie! Wowee!!

    We just noticed red winged blackbirds around here about two weeks ago. They have such attitudes! I love watching them. :)

    I also noticed that the cattails behind our house are doing their strip teases. Maybe that's why the blackbirds are drawn to them? They like to chase some loose tails... har har

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Molly! I was really happy with them, and had a hard time choosing which ones to post (hard as it might be to believe, more didn't make this post than did!) :-) Sounds like your Red-Winged BBs showed up just a little before ours did. They do have attitudes, don't they? I love that red color on their wings, it's so vibrant. Looks like it would glow in the dark.

      LOL about them chasing loose tails! :-) But yeah, I'll bet the seeds are ripe or easier to get at now that the cattails are disrobing! :-)

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  3. Even if the weather isn't spring-like, at least the birds are doing their best to encourage thoughts of spring. I'd say you've got the hang of the new camera and are ready to give the rest of us lessons!

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    1. Their powers of positive thinking are being tested right now - it's the temps more than the snow that's got to be tough on them - it's currently 14º ("feels like 5º" says the Weather Channel) and is supposed to get down to 9º tonight. After temps in the 60's last week, that's just rude!

      I'm getting there with the camera, slowly (very) but surely! I have to admit, though, I almost always leave it on "auto" - it does such a great job that I'm rarely motivated to use any manual settings, and then it's just to focus. But I'll learn all the light and exposure settings someday! (And how to take videos - I still haven't bothered to learn that yet!)

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  4. Gorgeous sky - as always. And those stunning birds could drag Spring over all by themselves. Such vibrancy. Consider me saying ooooh. Loudly and often.

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    Replies
    1. The next time I see them, I'll let our Redwings know that they have impressed someone who lives among a veritable rainbow of gorgeous, exotic birds! That'll really make their epaulets puff up! :-)

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  5. How wonderful to have red-wing blackbirds right in your front yard, practically. Their spring melodic songs are one of my favorites. Don't hear them around my place but did in MI where I once lived. Enjoy it all. Your images are fantastic -- you are a wizard with that new camera. -- barbara

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    Replies
    1. I agree (it's our back yard they're practically in, our front yard faces the elementary school so instead of bird song we get shrieking-children-on-the-playground sounds, which I find far less melodious!), and that field behind us is wonderful. Not only do we see the Red-Wings back there (they're about 100 yards away and we can easily hear them from our patio and through our open eastern windows), but also pheasants, bunnies, deer, and various other birds. Makes us feel like we still live in the country, but with the conveniences of town! There are plans to develop it someday - unconscionably - but we hope to be long gone before then. And hopefully they'll leave the marsh alone!

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    2. And thank you for your compliment about my camera skills, but as I confessed to Andrea, I've taken almost all my photos using the "auto" setting! The camera is amazing - I love it! I just need to motivate myself how to learn how to use all its other features! :-)

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  6. Fabulous shots indeed - and such a lovely bird.

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    1. Thank you! They really are, aren't they? Those splashes of red on their shoulders are so eye-catching, and I love their calls.

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  7. Now that you're in town, I had envisioned that the field of cattails was further from your house. I'm glad you have the two photos with the house to put that into perspective for me.

    These guys are really pretty. I really like the one you framed in black right before the ones you have of your house. I think his confidence level is really a 10! You've captured them beautifully and with the multiple shots, I feel like I was there!

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    Replies
    1. Your vision may be more accurate than these two photos would lead you to believe, as the camera pulled the house in closer than it really is. (The opposite of the caution on a car's side mirrors that "objects may be closer than they appear." :-) But the cattails aren' far, as you'll get to see for yourself in 6 months! Yay!

      I'm glad you enjoyed these, and always like to hear which in a collection is your favorite. By the way, now when I do add a frame to any of my photos, it's almost always with you in mind since your comment on the cattails post that you prefer framed photos! I do it selectively, though, since I do lose some of the image - and wish Photobucket had kept all their wonder frame options. The ones that remain are all kind of clunky looking.

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  8. Lovely pics of a grand bird.....one of my favorites, but around here you have to out in the countryside to see them. Thanks for sharing ;-.

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    1. That's pretty true here, as well - but at least for now, we are still at the edge of the countryside. With all the construction that's going on and is planned in this area, though, I figure there will come a point when the Redwings will say, "That's it, we've had enough of you people!" and will move on. (Same goes for us, frankly). :-)

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    2. Yeah, Red Wings aren't that people friendly, especially at nesting time! I've had a few chase me away, as did Jeremy on his bike rides when he was younger.

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    3. How funny! They didn't act that way when I was taking their photos. Maybe they were just too absorbed with their mating calls. Or maybe you and Jeremy just needed to appeal to their vanity by having cameras with you to point at them. :-)

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  9. I am always excited when I can get a good shot of a bird with wings spread, or joy of joys, his mouth open in song.

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    Replies
    1. I know what you mean, and Red-wings would be your dream photo subject, because the males always spread their wings when they make their call and it lasts long enough that getting a photo of it is quite easy (as you can see from all of them I got!) :-)

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SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

SOME CURRENT & RECENT READING...

  • INFERNO ~ Dan Brown
  • MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD & EVIL ~ John Berendt
  • MY NOTORIOUS LIFE: A NOVEL ~ Kate Manning
  • ONE SUMMER: AMERICA, 1927 ~ Bill Bryson
  • QUIET: THE POWER OF INTROVERTS IN A WORLD THAT CAN'T STOP TALKING ~ Susan Cain
  • THE BEAUTIFUL CIGAR GIRL ~ Daniel Stashower
  • THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY ~ Erik Larson
  • THE SHADOWS, KITH AND KIN ~ Joe R. Lansdale
  • THE TIPPING POINT ~ Malcolm Gladwell
There is still strong in our society the belief
that animals and the natural world have value
only insofar as they can be converted into revenue.
That nature is a commodity.
And that the American dream is one of unlimited consumption.
There are many of us, on the other hand,
who believe that animals and the natural world
have value by virtue of being alive.
That Nature is a community to which we belong
and to which we owe our lives.
And that the deeper American dream is one of unlimited compassion.

~John Robbins, "The Food Revolution"