Now you gotta give me props for my clever Blackbird and Robin title! Here we are with another entry in Project Chekov. I may have underestimated this little project but no good project comes easy. As you know by now, this post features two birds. Neither of these birds are technically new to the Blog and therefore sans check marks. However, it does give me a chance to significantly improve my offering of the following bird:
That there is the cleverly (okay, maybe not) Red-Winged Blackbird. These shots definitely up the game from the distant branch cluttered shot from before (link here). I bet that if you live anywhere in North America you have seen this particular bird and per Wikipedia one of the most abundant and studied birds in these parts. With that stated, you would think there would be more interesting information readily available on them. Pretty weak in that area across both Cornell’s bird site and Wikipedia. There is one key behavioral aspect that they lightly touch upon, but in my opinion understate.
These birds are downright aggressive on intruders. Get to close to their territory and they’ll start puffing themselves up, displaying their wings in an aggressive manner and get to squawking something horrible. If that doesn’t get your attention they’ll commence dive bombings.
hit the jump to read a little more about this blackbird and the other featured bird of the post
A number of years back, a set of these decided to nest in a walkway next to my company’s building. They declared that section of the walkway as theirs and proceeded to attack anyone that tried to use it. Women were getting abused the most as they swept in to mess with their hair. They eventually ribboned off that area and let them have their nesting area in peace. They also have a nasty habit of swooping in on my if my runs take me to close to their nests just off the road.
typically you will find them hanging out in marshy areas in amongst the cattails and prairie grass. They must be pretty nimble because they often take up positions on the highest peaks having no problem balancing on the various footings available.
At first I thought the shot above and below were actually females based on how light the coloring was on their wings. Turns out this was a wrong assumption. They are all males. The females are actually brown and if it wasn’t for their larger size you would think they were some variation of sparrow – I have some of those shots below so you can visualize the differences. I did learn something new about this birds. They often fall prey to raptors, owls and hawks – hell, even crows and herons are known to attack them. Some would say they might be a victim of their own abundance … my take is they are so damn annoying with their squawking all the time the other birds just kill them for some peace and quiet.
Always squawking and raising a ridiculous racket around the marsh like the own the place or something. They do provide for interesting poses and compositions!
Okay, I promised you the female and here you go.
Told you it looked kinda like a sparrow – a pissed off sparrow, but a sparrow none the less. Without a good measure reference it is hard to judge their size. Females are in the 7 inch range which is about 2 inches shorter than their male counterparts. Here is a shot of the female back so you can get a good look at the markings – admittedly, the head went a little soft but the composition with the light burst in the background turned out perfect.
No on to the other featured bird of the post. Another very common bird in North America and actually a member of the Thrush family. Cornell brands them the “quintessential early bird”. Something I never really thought of before but they are always out at the crack of dawn yanking worms out of the ground.
The Robin has made it onto the Blog several times now. There were a few shots from the Cheeseland excursion (link here). However, the shots of the babies at Jackson Hole are still my one of my favorites (link here). According to Wikipedia, these Robins are one of the few that don’t take crap from those brood parasites like the Cowbird (link here). When they see them they rid the nest – take that you asses (now realizing just how much those cowbirds torque me off).
Robins are preyed upon by hawks, cats and holy crap snakes (Linda will love reading that last tidbit), but form up into flocks to help safeguard from attack. It was once hunted for its meat, but the Migratory Bird Act has pretty much put an end to that (yeah!). One scary tidbit I did not know is they are common carriers for West Nile – eesh, this is EXACTLY why we need lots of insect eating birds to frequent our backyard.
That about covers it. Again, two pretty common birds here in North America. Next time you are out and about, take a break and just look around and enjoy nature – one of these birds are sure to be hanging out – tell them hi for me!