J R's Images & Ideas
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J R's Guide to the Birds of White Rock Lake

Red-winged Blackbirds   Index

Redwing Perched in the High Meadow

The most tantalizing and beautiful, yet elusive bird so far, has been the Red-winged Blackbird. I've seen them in the reeds so often I consider them friends, but getting a good, sharp photograph of one has been difficult. I had begun to think, impossible. They're smallish and fly fast, changing directions suddenly.

They hunt for food on the ground, where their shoulder colors show only minimally. When they fly or attempt to attract a mate those bright red and yellow patches show themselves in their glory.

Redwing Chase — Male After
Female Across the High Meadow

I'd noticed them perched on the tall wiry plants in the high, wild meadows White Rock Lake has been so proud of in recent years. After decades of mowing everything in the vainglorious notion that parks should resemble residential neighborhoods, with burr haircut grass, our Park Department now promotes its wild meadows (but still mows them — they've completely eradicated the gorgeous tall thistles from the dog park meadow).

a Female Red-Winged Blackbird

I bet some of those plants are seeded and cultivated, but they're beautiful and wild-looking, and the birds seem to like them. Except for the zillions of bugs, it's a great place to stand among the faintly buzzing fuzzybugs with a long telephoto training on one after another colorful bird, panning almost faster than I can see across the meadow.

The chase scene above is astounding, becuase I got two fast-moving birds in close proximity from a distance with a long telephoto lens. The focus and motion-stopping on the male on the right is amazing. I shot more than 800 images that day, and threw away all but 83. These are many of those, with some from the days before — high season, it seemed, for Agelains phoenicus.


Redwing Puffing Display and Redwing Looks Left

I still hope, someday, maybe soon, to be quick and alert enough to photograph a redwing flying toward me, with those blazing red leading edge patches flashing like colorful strobes. And me rendering them in focus with the right exposure and good composition.

A budding birder can dream.