Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Well worn redwings.

Male Red-winged Blackbird, spring plumage.

A mind’s eye Red-winged Blackbird (male) is jet black with yellow-and-scarlet epaulets – the belligerent, noisy harbinger of spring in much of North America. Never mind that it's not until a bird’s third year that its springwear is impeccable (see here for age-related variation in seasonal plumage) -- at any age, in fall, a male redwing is nowhere near so immaculate, its tuxedo stained. (But in a good way, as these pictures, taken today at the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, show. Click to see the delicate patterning):

The birds have molted during the summer, and the new feathers have buff, almost gilt edges.

After a fall and winter of redwing rambunctiousness, the pale edges wear off, resulting in the apparent monochrome perfection (not including the epaulets) we see when the birds return.

Breeding season or not, they don't get along.

So the tux – to become immaculate, must be worn.

1 comment:

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Very cool bird. Your pictures are wonderul.