These graceful, long-legged cranes may stand over four feet in height, and can often be found sauntering through fields in search of food near shallow marshes. Coloration is technically pale gray, but they often have a rust color from preening themselves with muddy bills. A red head crest along with an unforgettable mating call makes them easily identifiable.
My grandfather was a farmer who used to get up early to irrigate in his field, and when he’d come in for breakfast he’d talk about the meadowlarks and red-wing blackbirds he’d seen. Their song reminds me of him when I hear them singing in the Springtime.
I have a favorite spot I often pass when I go biking in the country west of town where I always look forward to seeing (and hearing) Red-winged blackbirds perched on cattails, trilling their sweet summer songs.
A male will defend his territory and attract a mate by perching on a high stalk and singing. They fluff their feathers and lift the leading edge of their wing so the red shoulder patches are prominent. Red-winged blackbirds are dimorphic, that is to say, the males and females have a completely different appearance. Females have mottled, heavily banded plumage lacking the distinguishing red and yellow shoulders the species is known for.
I spotted this pair of American bald eagles roosting over the banks of the Yellowstone River last January. Bald eagles are becoming more of a common site in this area after having been nearly wiped out through sport hunting and the use of pesticides . Thanks to reintroduction programs and the regulation of chemicals like DDT, the eagles’ numbers are rebounding throughout much of their natural range.
Photographic musings on nature, adventure, and the spaces in between…