Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Female Red-Winged Blackbird

I mentioned a bird I was having a lot of trouble identifying yesterday. As you can see by the title of the post, this bird turned out to be a female red-winged blackbird! Some of you may not be surprised by this conclusion when you see the pictures today, but others are saying to yourselves, "That doesn't look like any red-winged blackbird!"

That's the same thing I thought! When I began trying to find the identity of this bird, I looked through two separate bird guides. And they both kept telling me that I had a sparrow. I couldn't deny that it did indeed look very much like a sparrow, but none of the many kinds of sparrow quite matched this bird. I knew I had a problem!

I had finally decided to write a post about this bird, saying it was a kind of sparrow that I couldn't quite identify. Something still kept telling me that there was something wrong though. I just wasn't satisfied with telling you all that I had a sparrow, but I didn't know which type it was. And I finally came to the conclusion, after looking at a few other small birds, that I wasn't even sure it was a sparrow at all!

Once again I decided that I had to change my idea for my post for yesterday. I was completely stumped as to what this bird was, so I decided that I couldn't write anything about it until I at least had some idea what kind of bird I was looking at. There are some things I'm still a novice at, but I could still try to be thorough with my research. So I waited.

I then decided I would write about another kind of bird I saw that day. It was the red-winged blackbird I showed you yesterday, and I was completely sure what they were. I also picked them because I coincidentally found these two kinds of bird in the same place; around the pond at the nature park.

So in an effort to find some tidbit of extra information on red-winged blackbirds, I went to whatbird.com to get something good to share. As soon as I got on the right page, I saw my mystery bird staring right back at me! The page said it was a female red-winged blackbird! That's when it all came to me. I already knew this!

I had just read this information on another blog only a few days before. I was so busy with normal life that I had forgotten! But this female really looks nothing like its male counterpart. And I found out today before writing this that these females are commonly mistaken for sparrows by novice birders, just like I did. At least I'm not alone.

So there it is. That's my story on how I just stumbled across the identity of a bird that was driving me crazy. It all makes sense now. The two types of birds were out there at the same place with each other. They kept mostly apart, but they also were not afraid to cross paths. Male and female. So different, but not the first type of bird I've seen that has these differences. Mystery solved.

Today over at Nature Center Magazine there is a bit of very strange and interesting nature news. This news tells of a breakthrough of the ideas of life on our planet!

18 comments:

  1. Oh thanks for the info Ratty! I saw these birds, with a bit of red around the necks and I thought they're female cardinals.

    Fantastic capture!

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  2. I can see why you were thrown off trying to identify the female. It does look like a sparrow.

    I think the hardest part of taking photos isn't getting a good shot but identifying the things I do shoot :)

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  3. I struggle to identify things all the time. Good job. Nice shots too.

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  4. Don't you just love finding out new stuff? Sometimes the answer is so obvious its scary. No logic involved here, though, the female really does look quite different from the male. Worse, the female red winged black bird can take on several different (subtle) appearances. Keeps you guessing.

    Bill;www.wildramblings.com

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  5. Ratty did you get a new camera or something? Awesome pics!

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  6. My first impression is that you are wrong to name your friend as red-winged black bird; it must be a sparrow.

    But have to concur with you after all your effort.

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  7. I love the details on her and the shot where she is looking right at you, very cool.

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  8. You got a great picture of her! I have to confess that if I'd seen that picture all by itself, my first thought would not have been female red-wing. Good researching!

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  9. I never would have guessed that it was a red winged black bird. It's amazing how different they look from the males. You got some great shots of them that's for sure.

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  10. That just goes to show you that the male and female birds sure are different colors. I was sure it wasn't a female red winged black bird but I sure do believe you. By the way those are super pictures of it. Good job.

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  11. Your pictures are always great Ratty, but these are amazing. I would have a horrible time trying to identify any birds at all, although it's not really my forte.

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  12. it's very nice post, and beauty blackbird!thanks!

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  13. We have a ton of red winged blackbirds coming to our feeders, but we never see the females..maybe they are nesting now here!

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  14. You became very expert in taking birds picture Ratty. Its only gets better! Love the red winged blackbird!

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  15. Ratty nice photographs and yes bird identification can be difficult. Out here I have a very good book to help but even then the birds often don't conform to the pics in the book!!

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  16. What a great batch of photos!! I recall reading about these, how they tend to sort of hide and blend in with the grasses where they build their nests....so THAT'S what they look like!!

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  17. My human is wondering: isn't that a bit chauvinistic, naming the kind of bird after what the MALE looks like? Clearly she does not understand what's important in life: watching the birdies, not what they are named.

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  18. Thanks everybody for your wonderful comments. I was glad to be able to share this bird. I was lucky they came out of hiding for me. Now I'll answer a few questions.

    @Steve
    Yup, I sure did. And it's a good one. I'll be writing a little bit about it as soon as I can. I've kept it slightly secret until I can tell about it. I guess it's becoming pretty obvious.
    -

    @Sparkle
    I was thinking the same exact thing while I wrote about this bird. I almost mentioned that very thing, but my mind wanders a bit when I write, so I got sidetracked.

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