Rich Ditch's Photography Blog

December 13, 2009

Red-winged Blackbird on a Cloudy Morning

Filed under: Birds, favorite places, Gilbert Water Ranch, light — richditch @ 3:50 pm
Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

We don’t get a lot of cloudy days here in central AZ, and I miss the soft light and moody feel of these days that were so common in my New Jersey days. It was a good opportunity to add something a little different to my AZ portfolio when I spent a few early morning hours at the Gilbert Water Ranch on December 9, 2009.

My subject here is a Red-winged Blackbird – either a female or an immature male. I’ve been surprised by the number of people who have trouble identifying this bird in the field – often they think it is a sparrow because of the heavy streaking, and I’ve even seen one clueless person call it a Dickcissel of all things. Such misidentification might result from badly organized field guides (where birds are grouped by color and males and females don’t even appear in the same part of the book), but it more likely comes from observers who base their identifications on color and not on structure. The bill of this bird places it among the blackbirds, meadowlarks, and orioles and excludes the blunter-billed sparrows of North America.

Along with the soft light and muted colors of this image I also like the way t he feathers on the nape are fluffed up. I can’t recall seeing a blackbird do this before but it reminds me of what I’ve seen cowbirds do frequently.

Nikon D200, 300/2.8 plus TC20E (2x), ISO 400, 1/50th second at f/5.6, spot meter at -1/3rd stop compensation.


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