Yesterday at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge I was able to photograph several first spring Red-winged Blackbird males. These blackbirds were hatched last year and haven’t yet developed their adult plumage or Definitive Basic Plumage. The plumage of first spring male Red-winged Blackbirds is variable. They aren’t an all over glossy looking black with flashy epaulets at this age!
Their epaulets are more orange, blackish or red-orange instead of bright red and yellow. These first two images show the same individual bird. The under part of the wings show more brown than black. Although this young male is singing on territory I am not sure they breed their first spring or if they wait until their second year when they have their adult plumage.
This image shows the back view of a first spring Red-winged Blackbird male with rufous and cream edges on his feathers that wouldn’t be seen in adult or Definitive Basic Plumage.
This individual does not have a white bill, it appears to have been poking its bill into light colored soil or mud while foraging for prey and the mud has been caked on its bill.
Life is good. Birds make it more interesting for me.