Sunday, February 1, 2015

Rusty Blackbirds at Hornsby Bend

This afternoon, our "urban birding" adventure with Ross continued. After successfully finding Monk Parakeets in the morning, we went to Hornsby Bend to try again for the Rusty Blackbirds ... after all, who wouldn't want to entertain friends and family at the local sewage treatment plant? At least the picnic lunch option was voted down.

We had looked for the RUBL here earlier in January, but had not been able to identify them conclusively. This time, we saw eight birds (two males and six females) in the boggy area just west of the greenhouse and had enough observation time to be sure of our identification.

The first shot shows the boggy area that the birds forage in, with a few birds pecking at the water's surface. I am not sure if they are after insects or vegetation. This boggy, flooded-woods habitat is certainly correct for this species and helps distinguish the birds from the somewhat similar Brewer's Blackbird which would be found in open fields.

The next two shots show detail on the male and female respectively. The rusty-trimmed feathers and mottled chest are characteristic of the male plumage before breeding season when the rusty edges wear off.  The female shows a gray rump, rusty back, pale iris and bright supercilium.

This is another new confirmed bird for our list.

On leaving the park, we saw a half dozen Eastern Bluebirds near the guard station displaying funny antics on the barbed wire fence.

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