Saturday, May 10, 2014

Iona's yellowheads.

This week I took a group to Iona Beach Regional Park to see the Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  Usually they are easier to hear than see, only occasionally popping up from the dense vegetation of the marsh,

like this.


But this time they were right at the parking lot, waiting to greet with their spectacular calls.  There were males and females, and I wasn't able to make sense of exactly what they were doing--although it was, broadly speaking courtship, territoriality and other vernal exuberance-- because I was also herding humans, and there were non-associated naturalist types on site trying to take pictures--and one has to maintain a certain amount of mutual distance or be seen as an oaf.  Birding isn't as simple as many would think.

I followed the flight of a little drab bird to where it landed at the top of a distant tree. I haven't figured out what it was. Almost instantly it was photobombed, then scared away by a pair of yellowheads.   (In the above photo, mystery bird is below the female YH).

The whole point of going there was to see the yellowheads, and having them there right at the beginning of the walk meant that the bar was set pretty high for the rest of the day.


biobabbler said...

I still remember where I was the 1st time I saw a yellow-head. In pothole prairie habitat in North and South Dakota. That sucker GLOWED. They are SO amazing. =) Glad they exist.

Marilyn Kircus said...

I was enchanted with the yellow-headed cowbirds while working at Malheur NWR in Oregon. Then they took over my yard, chasing off other birds especially the red-winged blackbirds. But the tiny cowbirds ignored all their aggressive posturing and just walked around them.

I'm pretty sure that little bird IS a brown headed cowbird, waiting around for nests to be built and egg-laying to begin. Then his mate will lay her eggs in various other nests.

If you have enough size to crop your pictures, the birds would be lots easier to see.

Hugh Griffith said...

Marilyn, those photos are already cropped, as much as I dared without losing too much resolution. (Hand-held 300 mm lens on a gloomy day.) I think you may be right about cowbird. They are common there, and I can't think of a better possibility. Thank you.