All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

August Bird of the Month Yellow-headed Blackbird

Its brilliant yellow head, together with its loud, rusty-hinge call, make the Yellow-headed Blackbird a conspicuous presence in Great Salt Lake wetlands. It breeds in loose colonies and places its nest over water, attached to cattails and reeds.
One of the first birds identified as I guide groups of young scouts at Farmington Bay, the Yellow-headed Blackbird will allow the boys to approach them much closer that any other bird which is a real treat for the kids and it makes them one of the easiest birds to photograph. 

Even though they are very common, most of the first time visitors to Farmington Bay have never seen a Yellow-headed black bird before.

Male Description

Head, neck, and breast bright yellow. Body black. Black stripe in front of eye to bill. White patches in wing may be visible while perched, or hidden; conspicuous in flight.

Female Description

Body dull black and brown. Breast and throat pale yellow. Yellow on neck, face, and above eye. White streaking extending from yellow into brown lower chest.
Immature Description
Juvenile buffy with dark flecks, dark wings and tail, and two large white wingbars; seen only on breeding grounds. Young quickly become similar to adult female. Immature male has more extensive yellow and a thin white patch in the wing.
The Yellow-headed Blackbird nests in the Central and Western United States and winters in Southwestern U.S. and Mexico

The Yellow-headed Blackbird often nests in the same marsh as the Red-winged Blackbird. The larger Yellow-headed Blackbird is dominant to the Red-winged Blackbird, and displaces the smaller blackbird from the prime nesting spots. The Yellow-headed Blackbird is strongly aggressive toward Marsh Wrens too, probably because of the egg-destroying habits of the wrens. When the Yellow-headed Blackbird finishes breeding and leaves the marsh, Marsh Wrens expand into former blackbird territories.

The male Yellow-headed Blackbird defends a small territory of prime nesting reeds. He may attract up to eight females to nest within his area. The male helps feed nestlings, but usually only in the first nest established in his territory. The other females have to feed their young all by themselves.

1 comment:

Bonlee said...

A friend provided a link to this blog! As it opens, what do I see...a picture of one of my 'Duh' moments! We moved 2 yrs ago to a house across from a marsh. In the yard behind us I spotted these unusual birds. My husband had never seen them & I couldn't locate my bird books. I turned to GOOGLE...searched blackbird + yellow head!
I enjoy watching as a flock of males feed & gather food. I grew up in NY and now live in Oshkosh WI. My yellow headed friends are back already, building nests I presume, since I haven't spied any in the yard yet! Thank you for the photos & info