Sunday, March 19, 2006

Blackbirds at Nine Springs

Great lighting and warmer weather brought me back out to Nine Springs this evening to watch 10,000+ blackbirds go to roost. There were many Rusty Blackbirds, but the flocks were largely made up of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles.

Rusty blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Huge blackbird flock

The calls of Canada Geese and Sandhill Cranes reverberated over the water and pierced the calm air, but became silent when the large blackbird flocks passed over. Though there had been a few impressive flocks, when this one passed over it was like something out of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

The mixed blackbird flock perched, en masse, in the row of trees at the back of the marsh - this is where they roost. Try to imagine this scene multiplied by about 20 frame widths to get an idea for their numbers. The influx of the black songbirds tapered off as the sun dipped below the horizon. Just past twilight, small, urgent flocks of ducks and geese came in at low altitude and quickly chose one of the ponds. Just before leaving, a Great Horned Owl flew by just within a dozen yards or so and perched atop a nearby tree.

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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