Montezuma NWR: Blackbirds

Some days when you go birding at a National Wildlife Refuge like Montezuma you see a smattering of everything. There are some ducks. Shorebirds are foraging along the shallows. Raptors are soaring overhead. And there are songbirds in the trees.

On other trips to the wildlife refuge the trip feels more like, and now presenting the star of our show….

Red Winged Blackbird

On days like this there are often still a lot of birds to see, but one species of bird or type of bird dominates. One bird stands out and makes itself a spectacle. On those days it is impossible to miss seeing these birds.

Even as I am writing this myself, I know that the buildup feels like what awesome amazing rare or unusual thing was seen on this day. But that is not at all what I mean. At least not on this day.

I say that because the bird that dominated my bird watching experience was a pretty common bird. Common for birding in general. And especially common for birding at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.

The birds that dominated my views on this trip to Montezuma were the Red-Winged Blackbirds. Red-Winged Blackbirds are pretty much synonymous with any wetland areas where I live. They are synonymous and ubiquitous.

Red Winged Blackbird

So how can a bird so commonplace steal the show in this way? Because while I might see and hear Red-Winged Blackbirds regularly. And I might be very familiar with what they look like. I might have seen them over and over and have good photographs of them.

That does not mean that every time I see them they present for great views and nice photographs. On this trip the Red-Winged Blackbirds were in full show boat mode for me.

I can’t recall a birding trip recently where so many Red-Winged Blackbirds perched out in the open and close by. They were in perfect position for photographs. The birds stayed in one spot for long periods of time. Long at least for birds.

The birds were perfect little photographic models. Allowing me to compose multiple views and angles. Move in slowly to get close ups as well as more scenic style shots.

I was able to observe and photograph behaviors and just enjoy the experience without feeling rushed to take photographs.

The Red-Winged Blackbirds were putting on a show and it was one enjoyable show.

The Red-Winged Blackbirds even stole the show in photos of other birds like Great Blue Heron.


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