Red-winged Blackbirds, as the real harbinger of spring, return to my yard in early March. Their preferred habitat is marshes, wet meadows, or shoreline shrubs, and they nest in cattails or shoreline bushes, so they're not in my woodland yard for the habitat. They're here for the easy food. A reliable source of food that is not more than 1/4 mile from a nice patch of their preferred habitat.
There have been 3-4 regulars in the yard this spring and they've given me a little more time to observe them. I find them to be spooky to approach, but I did get a few images that I thought I'd share.
The images above show the undertail coverts of a female blackbird. When I previewed the image, I was just taken by how beautiful they are! They form a wonderful pattern that we just don't see and/or pay attention to.
Amongst the White-throated Sparrows foraging on the ground, it would be easy to overlook a female Red-winged Blackbird.
And with the eye stripe, one could quickly pass over a female blackbird as a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak or female Purple Finch, at least until you note the pointy dark bill.
Blackbirds will visit feeders, like the male above sharing a hopper feeder with a Blue Jay peeping around the corner or the male on a seed cylinder. I've even had one clinging uncomfortably on a suet log.
I've also enjoyed watching males purposefully utlizing their namesake red wing patches. Most of the time, they are hidden. But if another male enters to picture, inevitably one of them will flair out their red patch, warning the intruder not to mess with them!
Another thing I've really noticed is how often they flick their tail. When they do, it covers a wide range-of-motion, and is often accompanied by their check call.
Some people that feed birds complain about Red-winged Blackbirds at their feeders. I find them to be pleasant feeder guests, they don't come in big gangs, they're considerate of other feeders guests, and they don't spray seed around like some other birds do. Red-winged Blackbirds are welcome in my yard anytime!