Tag Archives: Red-winged Blackbird

Enjoying the Great Backyard Bird Count

The birds have been active at the backyard feeders since early this morning with no signs of slowing down. Here eight cardinals and a sparrow are jockeying for another chance to partake.

The temperature has dropped more than ten degrees to 37° F during the day as rainy, wintry weather returns after a yesterday’s sunny 65 degrees.

Early this morning before the rain started, I counted birds for a half-hour and then submitted a second checklist for the Great Backyard Bird Count. My very first checklist ever was submitted yesterday on Day 2 of this annual event. Both days there were some birds I could not identify, but I was able to report 68 birds. These are what I counted yesterday:

Start Time: 1:45 PM – Total Birding Time: 45 minutes – Number of Species: 10
Mourning Dove – 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1
Fish Crow – 2
Carolina Chickadee – 1
Tufted Titmouse – 1
Eastern Bluebird – 2
Song Sparrow – 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) – 1
Northern Cardinal – 6
House Finch – 2

Today’s checklist looked like this:

Start Time: 8:30 AM – Total Birding Time: 30 minutes – Number of Species: 16
Mourning Dove – 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker – 1
Blue Jay – 1
crow sp. – 1
Carolina Chickadee – 1
Tufted Titmouse – 1
Brown-headed Nuthatch – 2
Eastern Bluebird – 1
American Robin – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 3
Song Sparrow – 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) – 1
Northern Cardinal – 12
Red-winged Blackbird – 12
Common Grackle – 6
House Finch – 4

An Eastern Towhee and more robins showed up today after I finished counting so they were not included in the tally.  This is just a snapshot in time though and perhaps someone else reported them.  In a moment of serendipity, one interesting sight today was a large group of Red-winged Blackbirds accompanied by grackles and other blackbirds. It was only two weeks ago I first spotted a Red-winged Blackbird in this backyard garden and marveled at the Exceptional Sighting. Today for a fleeting couple of minutes, there were a dozen.

Exceptional Sightings

Eastern Bluebird, male. Photograph by Ken Thomas.*

The back garden bustled with countless cardinals, towhees, black-capped chickadees, house finches, robins and mourning doves vying for positions at the feeder early this morning. Then the intense deep blue of an Eastern Bluebird captured my attention.

Although it is said bluebirds do not often visit feeders, they do come to this particular garden feeder. They often perch on a branch of a nearby Red Maple (Acer rubrum), sitting quietly for long periods. When a bluebird deems the time to be right and he heads for the feeder, what a treat it is to see the quick flash of blue as light is scattered across its feathers. Such a magnificence, that blue!

Red-winged Blackbird. Photo credit: Alan D. Wilson, http://www.naturespicsonline.com.*

Today the bluebird was abruptly displaced by a quick, much larger bird at the feeder. Blue coloration was displaced by a majestic display of brilliant red, unmistakably belonging to a Red-winged Blackbird.

Though apparently among the most plentiful of birds in North America, none ever had been observed in this garden before today and it was quite exciting. The Red-winged Blackbird took his time at the feeder, allowing ample time to call for help in verifying the identification. Appearing dark and unremarkable while he roosted on the feeder, he lifted off with a confident display of red. Then he was gone, unaware of the excitement he caused.

The Red-winged Blackbird, caught today in such an uncommon sighting for this garden, perhaps would not have made a stir elsewhere.  And the Eastern Bluebird, already having made a small habit of attending the feeder, seemed a rather normal sight. Exceptional sights today, these birds were part of the garden only for a sliver of time, then they moved on.

Soon the cardinals returned, displaced only momentarily by a yellow-bellied sapsucker before resuming their breakfast.

Listen to an Eastern Bluebird and to a Red-winged Blackbird.

*Photo Credits: Eastern Bluebird, public domain.  Red-Winged BlackbirdCC BY-SA 2.5.