Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Search for the Yellow-headed Blackbird

This Baltimore Oriole called out, "Does my head look yellow to you!" I guess not...

It was a dark and stormy night...

Well, not really. It was a cool and windy morning when we set out on our adventure through Metzger Marsh and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on our quest to see the Yellow-headed Blackbird.
It had been seen in both areas lately, although spotting it had been difficult at best. Being out on such a windy and bright day wasn't going to make it easier! But, what the heck. We started out driving down the road to Metzger VERY slowly, searching the reeds off in the distance. I thought to myself, "This ain't gonna work!" We were looking into the sun it seemed not to mention the wind blowing what's left of my hair away. I was afraid the little Doodles was going to blow away too!
We went to the north end of the marsh and walked along the beach ridge and break wall that ran between the lake and the marsh...even WINDIER! Still no Blackbirds other than the Red-winged variety screaming at us as we went past. Time for plan B...
We drove out to Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge to hike around the ponds and marshes. I lost circulation in my fingers having them crossed so tight! We parked at the nature center and begin our quest again.
At this point, the winds changed, but not for the better. Luckily, I have big feet and a heavy camera or I would have blown away! Not to mention poor Doodles! It's amazing how far forward someone can lean without falling over in a gust of wind.

We had views of three different American Bitterns flying overhead and they could be heard booming in the marsh later. Definitely not yellow...

We could hear a great number of Common Moorhens calling, but only spotted this one. Still no yellow.

Shy Common Yellowthroats were abundant. We had to sneak up on this one to get a shot through the tangles and reeds. Not the right yellow...

These poor Eastern Kingbirds were getting blown backwards in the strong winds. They were screaming and flapping, but not making any progress, and not yellow in the least...

Here's a smarter friend of theirs. He perched along a canal out of the breeze in his black and white suit.

Out at the back of Metzger, we spotted this family of Mute Swans. Big white birds...

Here comes the father! He saw us and didn't care for our presence. Still white...

This was a nice surprise. A pair of Sandhill Cranes feeding...and being dive bombed by Red-winged Blackbirds. The Cranes are seeing red right now!

Watch your step! Just like in Indiana Jones. Snakes were everywhere sunning themselves and concentrating on not being yellow.

I wasn't sure if this Song Sparrow was singing or laughing at us wandering around trying to find the "Yellow-headed Blackbird of Doom."

Nice Spotted Sandpiper. He's giving me the crazy eye. "Stoopid humans, do I LOOK yellow?"

Tree Swallows were having a grand time in the high winds. Definitely good zooming weather for non-yellow birds!

We even saw a pair Trumpeter Swans preening and sunning themselves in the golden yellow sun.

One day I'll do a post on dragonflies like this Twelve-spotted Skimmer. Hmmm, it does have yellowish stripes...nah.

You have to pay attention! This male Wood Duck flew out of the nearby woods and zipped past us. Still not yellow...

Yellow at last!!! Oh, wait. It's a Yellow Warbler building a nest...nutz.

We had a great number of birds...blowing past...that day. As you can see by the slightly blurry pics, we never did find that mailto:#%@%5E$ Yellow-headed Blackbird! I guess we have something to do on our next visit.


  1. Hi Dave,
    This is a very post with so much diversity! Well done. I hate snakes!!!

  2. Wonderful pic of the oriole! must have been a great birding day! Not a big snake lover, but love having them around as it means a healthy eco system

  3. Hi Chris,
    I was thinking of you when I saw the snake...sorry!