Agelaius phoeniceus

| 37 Comments

Photograph by Peter Psyhos Burns.

Photography contest, Honorable Mention.

Burns.Redwing.jpg

Agelaius phoeniceus – red-winged blackbird, Falmouth, Massachusetts.

37 Comments

My favorite Bird!

The Elvis of the swamp!

Saturday evening my wife and I went to see Shutter Island, which is supposed to be set on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. At one point, there was the call of a red-winged blackbird and I whispered to my wife “Red-winged blackbird, I guess they have those in Massacusetts.” (I’m in Texas.)

I guess the movie was accurate.

So is the bird gonna get towed away for parking there? :)

Curt Cameron said:

Saturday evening my wife and I went to see Shutter Island, which is supposed to be set on an island off the coast of Massachusetts. At one point, there was the call of a red-winged blackbird and I whispered to my wife “Red-winged blackbird, I guess they have those in Massacusetts.”

Red-wings are indeed common in Massachusetts.

And Thoreau even noticed them in Maine.

Henry J said:

So is the bird gonna get towed away for parking there? :)

They are extremely common around here. Some of their favorite nesting sites lie within the clover leaf loops of highway interchanges; where, apparently they direct traffic with their distinctive calls.

Henry J said: So is the bird gonna get towed away for parking there? :)

One of my favorite signs:

FROG PARKING ONLY - ALL OTHERS WILL BE TOAD

In addition to being quite common in Massachusetts, Red-wings are notorious for their parking violations.

Falmouth is on Cape Cod, which is a great place for birding. Lots of seals and other wildlife as well. Last summer we were on a cliff looking out over the Atlantic and we could see lots of whales spouting and tail slapping. I was not able to get pictures of the whales though, as they were too far out.

ppb said:

In addition to being quite common in Massachusetts, Red-wings are notorious for their parking violations.

They also jaywalk alot, too.

I have a lot of these coming to the bird feeders in my back yard throughout the summer months; and there is a definite pecking order that goes with those red and yellow epaulettes on their wings. The bigger and brighter these are, the higher the rank of the bird.

I would guess the one in this picture has reached the rank of at least rear admiral.

Mike Elzinga said:

I would guess the one in this picture has reached the rank of at least rear admiral.

Nonsense. He’s obviously a bird-colonel.

They are extremely common around here. Some of their favorite nesting sites lie within the clover leaf loops of highway interchanges; where, apparently they direct traffic with their distinctive calls.

I have to wonder if that’s an anti-predator tactic?

Henry J

stevaroni said:

Mike Elzinga said:

I would guess the one in this picture has reached the rank of at least rear admiral.

Nonsense. He’s obviously a bird-colonel.

:-)

Nah; this one’s higher than an O-6. He even outranks a cardinal.

But does he outrank a kingfisher? Or an emperor penguin?

The red-winged blackbirds that I saw in Half Moon Bay, California all had a much less intense red patch. I also do not recall seeing the small white stripe under the red patch. I wonder if this is regional variation between eastern and western populations.

is it true tha we evolved frro gorillas and monkeys.if we are then why are they not evolving now

No one says that we evolved from gorillas. Gorillas and humans have a common ancestor.

How refreshing to see a literate, scholarly and educated criticism of evolution.

So is the bird gonna get towed away for parking there? :)

It ain’t parkin’, it’s pinin’.

is it true tha we evolved frro gorillas and monkeys.if we are then why are they not evolving now

OOOOH OOOH! haven’t been able to say this for ages…

“how is it there are PYGMIES + DWARFS ??”

gracious said:

is it true tha we evolved frro gorillas and monkeys.if we are then why are they not evolving now

If it is true that gorillas and monkeys are evolving, then why are you spouting such nonsense?

HalfMooner said:

The red-winged blackbirds that I saw in Half Moon Bay, California all had a much less intense red patch. I also do not recall seeing the small white stripe under the red patch. I wonder if this is regional variation between eastern and western populations.

Perhaps what you saw was not the red winged blackbird, but the less common tricolored blackbird:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricolored_Blackbird

gracious said:

i(I)s it true tha(t) we evolved frro(m) gorillas and monkeys.(space)i(I)f we are then why are they not evolving now(?)

All the great apes (including humans) evolved from common ancestors.

But worry not, gracious, the rest of the great apes are evolving too, right alongside us. Though ape fossils are even more rare than hominid fossils, we now have quite a handful, and it’s obvious that modern gorillas and chimpanzees are, like us, quite different from their ancestors.

This is among the most idiotic of the creationist canards.

It’s like asking “Most Americans are descended from Europeans, so why are there still Europeans”?

Implicit is the assumption that there’s some reason that there shouldn’t be things like orangutans and chimpanzees in a world with humans, as if the arboreal rain forest niche they inhabit somehow just disappears.

Actually, now that I think of it, in the 21st century it actually is possible that those niches will vanish and there will be no more great apes other than ourselves, so you might have something there after all, gracious.

stevaroni said: Implicit is the assumption that there’s some reason that there shouldn’t be things like orangutans and chimpanzees in a world with humans, as if the arboreal rain forest niche they inhabit somehow just disappears.

I very much doubt that the people using the “why are there still monkeys” argument are saying anything about disappearing ecosystems. More likely they think evolution required that all chimpanzees, everywhere, suddenly gave birth to humans.

Dan said:

HalfMooner said:

The red-winged blackbirds that I saw in Half Moon Bay, California all had a much less intense red patch. I also do not recall seeing the small white stripe under the red patch. I wonder if this is regional variation between eastern and western populations.

Perhaps what you saw was not the red winged blackbird, but the less common tricolored blackbird:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tricolored_Blackbird

Thank you. This could well be. I admit I’m not a birder.

gracious -

Let’s assume you’re serious.

is it true tha we evolved frro gorillas and monkeys.

(Questions should end with a question mark, not a period, to make the meaning clear. Capitalization is a more arbitrary convention.)

No, it is not true. We did not evolve from gorillas, we share a common ancestor with them.

if we are then why are they not evolving now

All of life is always evolving.

harold said: All of life is always evolving.

At this point, I love asking creationists “Are you precisely identical to both your mother and your father? (Think carefully before you answer.) If not, can you explain why?” It almost always derails the conversation.

Paul Burnett Wrote:

At this point, I love asking creationists…

What’s the point of asking “creationists” (I assume you mean committed anti-evolution activists, committed evolution-deniers, or trolz who mispel evry uther werd) unless they have an audience present? For every one of them there are many others who have been misled but can be straightened out with examples like yours.

Oops, I hit “submit” when I wanted to fix the formatting, and clarify that there are far more people who can be straightened out than there are activists. But only about the same amount as committed evolution-deniers - roughly 25% each of adult Americans.

It gives me great pleasure to write that Don McLeroy lost in the Texas GOP primary for his state board of education seat! Hopefully that will help prevent the dumbing down of biology textbooks nationally to meet Texas creationist standards.

Aagcobb said:

It gives me great pleasure to write that Don McLeroy lost in the Texas GOP primary for his state board of education seat! Hopefully that will help prevent the dumbing down of biology textbooks nationally to meet Texas creationist standards.

Sadly, given the demographics of Texas and Texan politicians, this is but a very temporary setback.

The Sensuous Curmudgeon has written more about the Texas SBOE races (not just McLeroy’s). This was the GOP primary, and although McLeroy’s loss is good, there are several other, still ongoing races which will matter for science education.

Aagcobb said:

It gives me great pleasure to write that Don McLeroy lost in the Texas GOP primary for his state board of education seat! Hopefully that will help prevent the dumbing down of biology textbooks nationally to meet Texas creationist standards.

Good news certainly, but sadly, down here in District 5 (basically, a big semicircle bisecting Austin and heading west) Ken “teach the controversy” Mercer has successfully defeated his primary challenger, a respected, moderate, professional educator named Tim Tuggey with what was (for a school board election) a remarkably large and nasty campaign.

(Ken Mercer for those not following the minutia, is easily as batshit nuts as McLeroy. His campaign literature (which, sadly I have here on my desk) proudly brags that among the victories he’s won for Texas is “World class science standards that allow our students the freedom to ask honest questions about evolution and global warming”.

Not only has he been on Mcleroy’s quest to remove evolution, paleontology, deep time geography and certain aspects of celestial mechanics from out science textbooks, but, since they’re on social-studies texts this year, of late he’s been spearheading spearheading the effort to rewrite the way American history is presented to emphasize that America is a nation based in and of Christianity.

Of course, this election was a bit odd, since a contentious battle for the republican gubernatorial slot brought out the red meat in the party.

Republican turnout swamped Democratic turnout, even by Texas standards. The tea party wing, fielding a candidate who spouted 9-11 conspiracy theories, got 19% of the vote while Rick “let’s secede” Perry got 51%.

A down-ticket item on the Republican primary, demanding the re-establishment of prayers in public schools and the display of the 10 commandments in public spaces, handily won with 95% of the vote, despite the fact that none of the current regulations are based on, nor subject to, state law.

Clearly, Republican primary voters were not in the mood for subtle introspection.

Fortunately, the Democrats elected a very strong candidate for governor the former mayor of Houston, Bill White, and that is expected to energize Democratic turnout in the traditionally progressive Austin area for the general election.

This, in turn, should give Mercer’s democratic challenger, a serious and well-regarded professional educator named Rebecca Bell, a serious down-ticket boost.

Please comment on the Texas School Board elections here.

A few months ago I saw an RWBB chasing a deer down the highway. The bird was just divebombing the poor dear. (Columbus, Ohio)

dNorrisM said:

A few months ago I saw an RWBB chasing a deer down the highway. The bird was just divebombing the poor dear. (Columbus, Ohio)

I was once running near Traverse City, Michigan, and a red-wing blackbird dive-bombed me! I picked up a roadside stick and waved it over my head.

Then I turned around and ran back. Before I reached the blackbird diving range, I saw another runner carrying a stick and waving it above his head!

We have a stuffed red-winged blackbord that we use for our ecology classes to demonstrate territorial behavior. All we need to do is pop that thing up near the lake during early spring, and a male will appear in a few minutes. He will squawk away for several minutes and then he will attack the stuffed model. Needless to say, our stuffed bird red-winged black bird has been patched up several times. This is an amazing demonstration of males defending their territories.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on March 1, 2010 12:30 PM.

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