Red-winged Blackbirds At Lema Ranch

by Larry Jordan on April 4, 2010

Red-winged Blackbird Male photos by Larry Jordan

I was able to leave work early the other day to attempt sighting the Sora that had been seen at Lema Ranch of late.  Apparently, this Sora came out in the open rather regularly and was easy to observe.  I was able to see the bird after about an hour wait but didn’t get a decent photo to share.  The Red-winged Blackbirds, on the other hand, were putting on a show!

This male Red-winged Blackbird is exhibiting his song spread display as he sings at the top of his lungs.  Described by Birds of North America Online as full intensity, meaning “epaulet feathers erected, wings extended fully and curved downward, tail lowered and fully spread and all contour feathers erected.”

Here is another angle of this bird in his song spread display.

You have to love those cool epaulets and for those who have never heard the male Red-winged Blackbird’s trilled and very identifiable song, it goes like this:

During breeding season the male is very obvious.  He perches atop cattails, in nearby trees or in any other high location to get an overview of his territory and sings and displays almost constantly.  He will also engage females in high speed chase.  These chases are fun to watch as they are conducted at the bird’s top speed and are an amazing display of aerial maneuvers.

The female Red-winged Blackbird is the object of all this attention

and being strongly polygynous (mating with more than one partner), there may be up to 15 females nesting in one male’s territory.

What are you looking at?  I’m taken!

Check out Birdfreak’s Bird Photography Weekly for more great bird photos, and if you have some of your own,  share them with the rest of us bird watchers!

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