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Posts Tagged ‘male Red-winged Blackbird’

I went searching through my archives yesterday for a photo from March 2016 that I wanted to have printed. I won’t dwell on my storage practices, but suffice it to say that I am not very well organized. The image in question, one of my all-time favorite shots, shows a Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) whose breath was visible in the cold morning air. I have posted the image a few times and have had some really positive response, but somehow I had never gotten around to having it printed.

I had forgotten that I had captured multiple shots that day and as I was going through them yesterday I came across the first shot below that I have never posted. I love the way that the image shows how the blackbird puts his whole body into producing his “visible song”—I remember my choir leaders instructing us on the importance of breathing from the diaphragm for better sound projection.

The second and third shots give you a better view of the bird’s breath as it was being expelled. I was playing around with image formats and decided to do a square crop that I think works pretty well with these images. One of the photo companies has a sale today on canvas prints and I may one or more of these shots printed to see how they look. A friend has also suggested that I consider having a metal print made of one of them.

The temperature, humidity, and lighting all have be perfect to be able to see this phenomenon shown here. I have not been lucky enough to see it again since that day almost four years ago, though others have taken similar shots at the same location in recent years.

If you are curious to read my blog posting about the initial encounter, check out my 8 March 2016 blog posting entitled “Visible Song.”

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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A large number of Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were in the trees and among the cattails yesterday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park and their raucous calls resounded throughout the park. The males seemed to competing to see who could call out the loudest and longest, as if to say, “Can you hear me now?”

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I took this shot yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park, I assumed it was a female Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), because of its color and the pattern of the feathers. At home, though, it became clear that it was an image an immature male who is just starting to gain some of the markings of an adult male—you can just make out the beginnings of the colorful shoulder patch.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I love the feeling of the early morning, when the world is awash in pale colors and the birds are just starting to wake up. It’s a magical feeling for me sometimes, and the mist in the air last Monday only enhanced that effect.

How do you capture a moment like that? I don’t shoot a lot of landscape photos, but I can understand how some photographers are driven to find the right mix of compositional elements to pass on to others the emotional impact of a particular scene.

As I was walking along the boardwalk at my favorite marshland park, I was drawn to this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) perched on a railing leading to an observation platform. Normally I try not to include man-made elements in my wildlife shots, but in this case the railing faded out into an almost indistinct set of lines and shapes. Far in the distance, there is a suggestion of the trees and the water. With its bright shoulder patches, dark color, and sharper details, the blackbird provides an element of contrast with the rest of the scene.

Sometimes it’s fun to chase after more exotic subjects, like the owlet that I saw recently, but at other times I am content to try to capture the feeling of a moment, like this blackbird on a misty morning.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I am not sure why, but this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) was acting differently this past weekend. Rather than standing tall and singing out loudly, as is normally the case, he was instead hunched over and making a more gentle peeping sound.

Was he in pain or distress? Was this simply a different way of communication? It’s overwhelming sometimes to consider how little I know about the behavior of the subjects that I try to photograph, despite the fact that I am learning all of the time.

From a photographic perspective, I really like the geometric. almost abstract shape of the blackbird in this image.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In a field full of cattails, this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) at Huntley Meadows Park chose to perch on a man-made structure, a weather-monitoring station.

I really like the juxtaposition of the natural and industrial elements in the simple composition of this image and its limited palette of colors.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It was so cold yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park that the breath of a Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) was visible as he sang out from atop a cattail.

Spring is definitely in the air and potentially record high temperatures are forecast for later in the week. However, it was right about at the freezing level when I arrived at the local marshland park where I spent so much of my free time wandering with my camera in hand.

I’ve photographed Red-winged Blackbirds lots of times, but I rarely pass up an opportunity to shoot them again—I just never know when I may capture an unusual moment. The sun had risen and light was starting to reach the cattails. I turned toward the light when I heard a blackbird call out.

As I zoomed in on the bird, I was amazed to see that the blackbird’s breath was visible as he forcibly exhaled when singing. In the still morning air the visible breath swirled about and the bird looked like a smoker getting his early morning nicotine fix.

I was fascinated by the differing patterns of the condensation as the blackbird moved his head or body position and was thrilled to be able to capture several different views of the blackbird’s visible song.

As I went to bed last night, I noticed that the counter for my blog was right at a hundred thousand views. Thanks to so many of you for helping me to reach this milestone and for encouraging me and supporting me as I journey on into photography.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Some days it seems like the birds are conspiring against me. They are so skittish that they fly away long before I am within range or they hide behind a wall of branches, where I can hear them but cannot see them clearly.

In moments like that, a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) often comes to rescue me from my despair. These birds are so bold and defiant that they refuse to hide. Instead, they find the most prominent perch and sing out as loudly as possible, showing off for rivals and potential mates.

This past Monday was one of those days when I was having trouble finding subjects to photograph. Suddenly a blackbird appeared and flew to the highest branch of a nearby small tree. Undeterred by my presence, he looked in my direction and seemed to smile. After a moment, he burst forth in singing while continuing to look at me, as though he were saying, “This one’s for you.”

Red-winged Blackbird

bb2_22feb_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do you generate volume when you sing? I remember being told to breathe from the diaphragm, but this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) seemed to think that spreading his wings helped him to be heard yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As the early morning sunlight hit the cattails yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park, this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) seemed to be contemplating the start of the new day.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some of my favorite photos are ones with a common subject and a simple composition, like these shots I took this past weekend of a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) at Huntley Meadows Park. The blackbird was perched in a field of cattails and the morning light was beautiful.

Sometimes photography seems so uncomplicated—it just works.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Several male Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were calling out loudly in the cattails yesterday morning at Huntley Meadows Park as I walked crunchy snow on the boardwalk. There was no way that I could sneak up on the birds for a closer shot, so I was content to photograph them from a distance.

I love the look of birds against a snowy backdrop and decided to leave a lot of literal white space around the blackbirds to give a sense of the setting in which I found them. Temperature are going to soar in the next few days, so I am going to take advantage of the snow while it is still present in our area.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Who needs a rooster when you have a Red-winged Blackbird?

The silence of the early morning yesterday at Huntley Meadows Park was broken by the raucous call of a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), announcing loudly his presence and the arrival of a new day.

On a frosty November morning, it was time to wake up.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The soft morning light reflected off of the colorful autumn foliage early today at Huntley Meadows Park, providing a beautiful backdrop for this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) as it perched in the cattails.

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I probably watched too many horror movies as a child, because I couldn’t help but think of Count Dracula when I first saw the posture of this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) at my local marshland park. The blackbird seemed to have assumed the traditional bat-like Dracula pose and appeared to be getting ready to swoop in and suck my blood. Involuntarily, my neck began to twitch a little.

Fortunately, the blackbird flew off in another direction and, at least for now, I have not been turned into a vampire.

Red-winged Blackbird

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There were only a few Red-winged Blackbirds at my local marsh yesterday morning, but the loud volume of their calling made up for the smallness of their numbers. The morning light was quite beautiful, which makes these images look almost like they were shot in a studio. It sure helps when you have a cooperative subject, like this male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), who enjoys being in the spotlight.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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As I wandered along the boardwalk yesterday at my local marsh, birds would periodically pop in and out of the eye-level cattails. Most of them were little sparrows that would bury themselves back down in the underbrush. At one point, though, a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) emerged and perched near the top of the cattails.

He was so close that I didn’t dare move from where I was standing and I tried to find a visual path through the vegetation to get a clear shot. I cropped this image slightly and made a few minor post-processing, but this is pretty much what I was seeing through the viewfinder as I tried out my new Tamron 150-600mm lens.

The photos were shot handheld at f/6.3, 1/400 sec, ISO 320, and 600mm. Recognizing that the image quality would increase a little if I closed down the aperture, backed off from the maximum focal length, and used a tripod, I am nonetheless pretty happy with the result and it’s definitely cool to more than fill the frame with a bird.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Despite the rain yesterday, the male Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) were singing up a storm. It seemed like their entire bodieswould expand as they prepared to call out loudly. I didn’t see any female blackbirds respond to the calls—in fact, I didn’t see any at all.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Usually I spot male Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) perched on the top of the cattails stalks, loudly calling out, but this one decided to perch himself sidewards. It looked a little awkward, but he seemed to manage well enough as he struck a pose for me.

blackbird_hanging_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Most birds seem to seek shelter when it is raining (and most people too), but this male Red-winged Blackbird (and this photographer) were an exception to that rule in late December.

blackbird_rain_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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