Yellow-headed Blackbirds (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) have begun to show up in large numbers in my area of the country. I’m seeing them perched on Cattails, Phragmites and in flight. The freshwater marshes that surround the Great Salt Lake provide excellent breeding grounds for this species.
Female Yellow-headed Blackbirds are brown and have yellowish throats and facial patches. I photographed the female above perched on Curly Dock at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area on the last trip I made to Utah before permanently moving here.
Yellow-headed Blackbird males are black with white primary coverts and have yellow heads, chests and throats. They are easily identifiable and unmistakable. I photographed this displaying male above at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge.
The males are a challenge to expose properly in photographs because of the high contrast between the yellows, blacks and whites. I generally expose for the darks and hope I don’t blow out the white primary coverts if they are shown.
Yellow-headed Blackbirds have a very mechanical sounding call, it can be heard here.