Sunday, January 02, 2011

Variations on black

The redwing blackbird males are back, and staking out their claims around the Centennial Park duck pond. Their mates will arrive in a month; they'd better have the territory marked by then. Konk-ki-ree! The trees are crowded with black birds.

Not all are redwings, though. Quite a few were brown headed cowbirds*, in pairs.

Male brown headed cowbird*. A beautiful bird, when the sunlight glints off the blue-green sheen on his back and wings and the purplish-brown of the head.

The shy female is a drab dark brown. Here she hides behind dry grasses, walking on the frozen pond.

Adult male red-wing blackbird. He's a blacker black than the cowbirds. The first-year males wear black decorated with orange stripes and spots.

More black birds; crows. Just plain black, all over.
And in the taller trees, the larger black birds waited; a half-dozen eagles, mostly youngsters, in their mottled coats.

*Correction; probably a Brewer's Blackbird. Thanks, Clifford!


  1. Actually the bird in your first picture is a Brewer's Blackbird. The head of a Brown-headed Cowbird is more of a flat brown without any shine. Great picture of it though.

  2. Thanks, Clifford. Strange; the photo in my Audubon's of a Brown-headed male cowbird is much bluer, like these ones were, and has a moderately shiny head. The Brewer's, in Audubon, has a purple head and back. But the eyes of the cowbird are black, and these are yellow, like the Brewer's.

    So confusing!


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