Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Surprisingly Colorful Brewer's Blackbird at Mirror Lake in Yosemite Valley

Black is supposed to represent the total absence of color. It's white that can be broken up into the colors of the rainbow and all that. So I don't get quite as excited about totally black birds mainly, it should be said, because they are so hard to photograph. The black swallows color, perspective and depth. My apologies to Ravens and Crows, because I admire them greatly, being the most intelligent of birds. I also need to apologize to the Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) for much the same reason. I see them by the thousands every day swarming over farmyards and cattle fields. They always seemed so totally black and plain.

That was until Sunday when I was walking along the shoreline of Mirror Lake at the upper end of Yosemite Valley. There was just one of them hanging around, and it landed right next to me on a fallen log. It's quickly apparent that up close the male Brewer's Blackbird is very colorful, with iridescent shades of purple, blue and green, set against those intense yellow-rimmed eyes. These birds are rather striking up close!
Mirror Lake is a good birding spot in Yosemite Valley. The "lake" is a ponded part of Tenaya Creek, caused by a huge rockfall a couple of hundred years ago. Tenaya Creek runs high during the spring and then practically disappears by fall. I've seen a number of different kinds of woodpeckers, Red-winged Blackbirds, and the ever present Stellar's Jay and Raven.

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