This is another image I made way back in the spring when the Blackbirds had first returned to the prairies near Calgary. I was very excited to have them back in the area because they are very curious and even more fun to watch. They sing all the time and are never too shy to pose for the camera! I watched this one for a long time before we were both ready to move on.
It’s been a long winter and after many months of snow and dull grey skies I was really starting to get tired of making images that were largely monochrome. I’m not saying I was only shooting black and white, because I really don’t do much of that, but there have been a lot of images that were largely 1 or 2 colors (often including white and brown), and even those were relatively dull and muted. Or at least it seems that way now that I’m thinking back on it.
But now that spring is finally here there are many new and interesting subjects showing up every day. We still haven’t seen many new spring flowers, but everything is starting to green up and it won’t be long before there are colorful leaves and flowers everywhere!
One common subject that I’ve been seeing every day lately are Yellow-headed Blackbirds. These vibrant birds are both beautiful and interesting to watch. Like their Red-winged cousins they are very curious and usually willing to pose for a portrait while they check you out in return. Mostly I’m just grateful to have colorful subjects readily available once again!
I was very surprised to discover a Red-winged Blackbird eating from the bird feeder in my backyard this weekend. It spooked when we went outside to watch it, but it came back soon after. My wife and I sat and watched it eat while the kids went crazy playing in the yard. I don’t know how common it is for a blackbird to eat from a feeder, but I’ve never seen it before, so I had to get some pictures to share.
It’s been pretty exciting to watch all the birds come to the feeder through the spring. Among the many House Sparrows that are year round residents in the neighborhood, I’ve also had several White-crowned Sparrows, many Robins, two pairs of House Finches, and (also surpisingly for me) a trio of Common Grackles. Of course there have been many other birds as well, but these are the repeat visitors…
Anyway, here are a few pictures of the Blackbird from the other day. Because of the patchy colors on the wing it appears that this bird is a juvenile (1st summer).
I’m happy to have Blackbirds back in the area because they are always very curious and fun to watch. They sing all the time and are never too shy to pose for the camera! I was out looking for Yellow-headed Blackbirds when I saw this one perching on a post beside a slough. I actually found lots of Yellow-headed birds, but didn’t manage to make any great images. I’m very happy with what I got from this Red-winged beauty instead!
The spring migration started weeks ago on the prairies for the ducks, geese, and swans, but the shorebirds have been taking their time getting here. I did catch a glimpse of a solitary Kildeer on the shore of a slough last week, but that’s been the only one so far.
Well, everything changed this week and the shorebird migration is now in full swing. The early arrivals are definitely here and I saw dozens of Kildeer today and quite a few American Avocets as well. I haven’t seen any Black-necked Stilts or Yellowlegs yet, but I’ve seen several reports that they have also arrived. The next couple of weeks will be very exciting to watch as the next waves of birds arrive!
I saw this Avocet standing in a slough but unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the pond to get the best light. There was a parking area at the North end of the water and I was able to slowly walk around to the west side of the slough to get the late afternoon light shining on the face of the bird. I wasn’t careful or quiet enough while walking around and I managed to flush most of the ducks on the pond, but the Avocet (which was already flying before I even started walking) came in across the water and landed close in front of me. The pond was almost completely still and the glassy water was stirred up only by the movement of the Avocet as it walked around and I was able to make some really nice reflection images.
While I was laying on the edge of the slough watching the Avocet a flock of about 6 Kildeer also flew in and landed close to me. Most of them immediately launched again, but this one didn’t notice that I was there and stayed close while I made several images.
I also saw my first Red-winged Blackbird of the season this week and I had a good chance to make a few portraits this afternoon.
Here are a couple more images of the Avocet from above. I’m looking forward to lots more shorebird action over the coming weeks!