On and off all day long I thought I heard a red-winged blackbird outside declaring his territory. I couldn't see him anywhere, and I didn't really take the noise too seriously, because I'm about half a mile from the nearest wetland or patch of cattails. A red-winged blackbird just passing through would be one thing, but sticking around all day and acting like he's going to set up shop? So it's just a funny sounding grackle, or a very determined starling doing a blackbird imitation over and over--right?
Nope. Around 6 p.m. I was in the kitchen kneading bread, and there was Mr. Blackbird gleaning seed from under the feeders. His shoulder patch was more yellow-ish than red, and I thought I read somewhere that epaulet color was related to diet and that males with redder epaulets had larger territories and attracted more females, but now I'm having trouble digging up any research on it. All the same, I think it's a pretty safe wager that if this particular blackbird decides to make my yard his territory, he's probably not going to have a lot of mates. Maybe I could plant some cattails around my birdbath for him. Red-winged blackbirds are very, very common, but it still not a bird I was expecting to add to the yard list.