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Photographing the Female Red Winged Blackbird

Each spring the male red winged blackbirds put on a colorful display. They puff up their red wing feathers to attract females by “out-displaying and singing” the other rival male red winged blackbirds in the vicinity.

It is quite a sight to behold as well as to hear. A sure sound of spring is on its way.

The female red winged blackbird, seemingly less numerous than the males although that is just my personal observation, gets far less attention from observers and bird watchers because of their duller and less flashy feathery attire. From personal experience they are also harder to photograph because they aren’t caught up in the displaying ritual as are the males so getting close enough to photograph them isn’t quite as easy.

Today I was able to get a couple shots of a female red winged blackbird, including one which perplexes me. One of the shots depicts a female red winged blackbird doing a similar style of display as the males, even having a slight bit of red on the wings as well. I have never seen such a display or behavior, mostly as I am guilty as others in always trying to catch images of the males very colorful and entertaining display.

It was one of those moments where I learned I need to start looking for more of the subtle stuff in nature to photograph, the stuff often missed by the casual observer. Stuff like this female displaying similar to a male, which has been missed by me for years of countless hours of watching male red winged blackbirds sing and display. Here are a couple shots of the lesser noticed female red winged blackbird from this morning, teaching me I need to pay more attention to the more subtle stuff in nature I have obviously been missing.

female red winged blackbird
A displaying female red winged blackbird.

female red winged blackbird
A female red winged blackbird perched on a cattail.