Yellow-headed Blackbird Male Just Before Lift Off

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Yellow-headed Blackbird male just before lift offYellow-headed Blackbird male just before lift off – Nikon D810, f9, 1/1000, ISO 500, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

To my delight the mechanical sounding calls of male Yellow-headed Blackbirds buzzed over the marshes of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge yesterday morning. I can’t honestly say their calls are pleasant but these blackbirds are easily identified by the sounds they make as well as by their bright yellow heads and black bodies.

The males are now displaying from the tops of cattails, rushes and phragmites to attract as many as 8 mates in his territory. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are larger and more dominant than the Red-winged Blackbirds that also nest on the refuge and they tend to take over the best nesting areas.

This Yellow-headed Blackbird was the first I have photographed this year but I know it won’t be the last of the season.

Life is good.



  1. Jane Chesebrough April 5, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Good shot! I am looking forward to hearing these noisy guys and seeing their wonderful displays.

  2. Sharon Constant April 5, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Stunning, Mia. The Yellow-headed Blackbirds arrived in Yolo county California a few weeks ago. I was so excited to see them. Describing their calls a mechanical is perfect. I find the sound so eerie. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Elephant's Child April 4, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Wow. A stunner I will never see – thank you.
    Crap on the car I can sort of cope with. The birds which crap on the veranda after guzzling my mulberries are not my friends. Mulberry crap stains are permanent.

  4. Sarah Mayhew April 4, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Great capture!

  5. M. Bruce April 4, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Nice work Mia!

  6. Patty Chadwick April 4, 2015 at 7:03 am

    These are such beautiful birds…wish we had them here. We have the Red-Winged versions. They arrive with the Grackles and Starlings, tank up on seed and suet, then head for the wetlands. The Grackles and Starlings stay behind and clean out our feeders then poop all over the cars.

    • Mia McPherson April 4, 2015 at 9:49 am

      Patty, I think they are beautiful too. Too bad about the poop, doves do that to my car.

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