Thursday, March 01, 2012
Longtime Madison birder Charles Naeseth called recently to let me know that blackbirds are arriving and beginning to form large flocks at Nine Springs. I've seen a few Red-winged Blackbirds and one Common Grackle over the past few days in Middleton, but no flocks yet. During March, there are times an evening visit to Nine Springs will provide panoramic views of thousands upon thousands of blackbirds going to roost for the night. By listening carefully, you're likely to hear Rusty and Brewer's Blackbirds among them. In seeing so many blackbirds, it's difficult to remind myself that even the population of the unappreciated Common Grackle has plummeted from 190 million birds a few decades ago to 73 million today. They're seen by many people as pests and nuisance birds in regional areas where their numbers have increased locally. What's to love about them? I'm not sure their pale yellow iris wins them any respect or affection, but their their brilliant iridescence can be stunning in the right light.
All images © 2012 Mike McDowell