Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Red-winged Blackbird 2

For years, Erika and I taught an environmental education lesson to all the sixth graders in Aberdeen, South Dakota.  We showed the children birds and asked them to make up names.  Male Red-winged Blackbirds presented no problem.  Either the students already knew what a Red-winged Blackbird was, or the species is easily named from its color patters.

The kids had trouble with the bird in the photo above.  Both they and their teachers were often amazed that this streaked bird is a female Red-winged Blackbird.  I was surprised that, despite many Red-wing photographs, I had none of the female.  This spring I remedied this omission at the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault.

Our students yelled "Yellow-headed Blackbird" when they saw the bird below.  They were crestfallen, however, when I replied "Wrong!"  The teachers twittered but the students were delighted when I continued, "Black-assed Yellowbird!"  This blackbird breeds in prairie marshes of the northern Great Plains of the United States and Canada and is found east into Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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