Posts Tagged ‘Agelaus phoeniceus)’

There was a lot of bird activity early yesterday morning as I walked through the cattail-filled marshy area of Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia. Many of the birds were in groups, it seemed, including large flocks of noisy black birds that several  of my fellow bloggers have helped me identify as grackles.

Most of the birds seemed to be be passing through and perched high in trees or landed too far away for me to capture them individually with my modest telephoto zoom. (Another photographer I saw had a massive 600mm telephoto lens with a 1.4x teleconverter attached and seemed to have greater success.)

However, I was able to take this photo of bird on a cattail stalk and amazingly I can identify it—it’s a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus).  I realize that the Red-winged Blackbird is probably one of the easiest birds to identify (along with the robin, bluejay, and cardinal), but I have had so many problems recently identifying the birds in my photos that it is satisfying to be able get one right.

There were flocks of birders present too, equipped with telescopes and binoculars, and some of them were almost as loud as the grackles. I heard lots of interesting debates, like whether a large bird soaring in the distance was a red-shouldered hawk or a redtail hawk (and I had no idea previously that there was a bird called a Coopers hawk). Most of the bird people were so intense that I didn’t dare to attempt to engage them in conversation.  One gentlemen, however, talked with me at length, periodically referring to a tattered guide that he had with him (it was a Peterson’s guide to birds east of the Rockies and he recommended it for a beginner like me). I think that I may have to break down and buy a little guide like that to start to learn more about birds.

For now, I’m happy that I can identify a Red-winged Blackbird most of the time, especially a male one!

Red-winged Blackbird on a cattail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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