by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"A Lucky Fluke"

Yellow-headed Blackbird

blackbird        While coming home from Salt Lake City, we decided to take a break from driving and turned off the freeway to check out Yuba State Park. This is always a favorite getaway for us, with the beautiful lake and the remoteness of the area. The lake was loaded with rafts of migrating ducks. We got some great pictures. Three miles down the road we spotted power poles and power lines loaded with birds, so we pulled over to get a better look. They were Blackbirds, and the males were practicing their musical scales trying to impress the females. To humans their song sounds like rusty hinges on an old wooden gate. We pulled out our binoculars to get a better view of the Blackbird Choir and what a surprise . . . we were looking at a flock of migrating Yellow-headed Blackbirds!

        Gotta get a picture. Gotta get closer. Gotta move the vehicle. No sooner did we roll toward the power poles, than the flock flew away. What a disappointment! The few times we have seen Yellow-headed Blackbirds have always been a 'fluke'. That’s why I never miss a chance to look into a flock of Blackbirds, because I might see a Yellow-headed one. I look for that beautiful yellow head, yellow breast, and white wing patch on a black body.

        The Yellow-headed Blackbirds spend their summers in the Western United States and Canada. The males are the first to show up. The females follow. When winter comes, they spend it in Arizona, New Mexico, and points south. Blackbirds are generally not found far from water and marshland. They thrive on seeds and the rich insect life of wet areas. If you are lucky enough to see a flock of Blackbirds, look into the flock and search for that yellow head. And if you do find one, consider it a 'lucky fluke'.

        Marilyn Davis is the artist this week. If you have questions about Blackbirds or the upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon General Meeting with Heber Meeks discussing "The Aspen Regeneration Project" - Wednesday, May 11, 7:00 - call 435 673-0996.

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