I had really been trying for the perfect shot.....adult male with the wings out and curved, against the bright blue sky. I got one, sort of.....
Close, but not as in focus as I would like. They don't often get up that high in the air, spending most of the time at cattail level or just above, but with more cattails in the background. There was a brief time when one or more got higher, as a raptor floated by, causing many blackbirds to sound the alarm and go up to let the hawk know it better not come any closer. Turns out it was a Cooper's Hawk, which afforded some decent views and photo ops.
Both Red-winged Blackbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds exhibit fairly aggressive territorial behaviour, making for some interesting interaction.
The red-wings like to show off their brilliant red epaulets. Research has shown that the brighter and more vivid the red is, the more dominant the male will be in a colony. Some researchers, many years ago, captured some dominant males and painted their red epaulets with some dark water-based paint. The result was that during the time the red was covered up, the dominance of these males dropped to almost zero. But when the black paint washed off and the red was more visible the birds once again returned to their dominant position in the colony.
I'm not sure what the Yellow-headed Blackbirds thought about this behaviour. There clearly was some territorial defence-work in action. Here, a male of each species was quite vehement about the presence of the other.
It seemed that, for the moment, the Yellow-headed won this round.
Red-wings were quick to harass some of the other birds.....perhaps in frustration over being beaten out by the Yellow-headeds?
|Great Egret being harassed by a male Red-wing|
I did manage to get a few other shots of the Yellow-headeds in flight, to show the white wing patch.
A non-bird highlight of this outing was finding a rare species of turtle out crossing the road. A fellow photographer noted it first, and proceeded to get it to the side of the road before an oncoming truck came along.
This little one is a Musk Turtle, quite a rarity in Ontario. It has a high (for its size) rounded shell, and its nose is rather pointed. It is small and spends almost all of its time in the water, hence the mossy look to its back. Due to its shy nature, small size and tendency to spend so much time in the water compared to many other species of turtles, it might not be as rare as its status indicates. Nonetheless, in my ~40 years of field work, I have only seen them on land on half a dozen occasions.
And with that, I will bring this post to a close.