Friday, November 28, 2014

Red-winged Blackbird at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge

On our travels north this week, we had the opportunity to explore a new (for us) wildlife refuge, the Sacramento complex just off Interstate 5 near Willows in the Great Valley. A six mile long auto loop allowed access to a variety of environments. Thousands upon thousands of birds were there, as well as a few deer.
The Snow Geese will undoubtedly be featured here before long, but today we have some Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) that were hanging out in the cattails and reeds.  Their wings weren't as red as they are in springtime, as they aren't trying to catch the eyes of the ladies so much.

The Red-winged Blackbirds are common across the United States, but although there are tens of millions of them, they have declined in number by about 30% over the last five decades, presumably because of habitat destruction. Their close relatives the Tri-colored Blackbird are in serious danger in our Great Valley, with only 300,000 of them left.

The last picture is a juvenile male. It's more of a brown color with buff wing tips. In a few months, the birds will be black all over, and competing with each other for territory and females.

1 comment:

  1. I like that you are showing pictures of California's wildlife refuges, their habitats and animals. They are great places to "get away from it all", and are not celebrated enough (probably a good thing). California is such a great place, so many natural things to see. Forget the glitz and the media; this is what's left of the real California. The bird blogs are pretty darn good, too.