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Red-Winged Blackbirds
February 29, 2016

Last week gave us the biggest snow storm of the winter.

Most of Michigan's lower peninsula was hammered with a late season storm, dumping more than a foot of wet, heavy snow over much of the region.

By far the biggest storm of winter (for us).

A foot of snow is now big deal, wet and heavy snow makes it more so.

(Fresh snow on Viburnum.)

The same monstrous system that gave us snow, wreaked havoc in the deep south and Mid-Atlantic states with deadly tornadoes.

Prayers go out to all.

Little Snicker Doodles is getting spayed today (Monday), as well as having her puppy teeth removed.

She looks a bit goofy right now with two sets of canine teeth.

I can pick her up Tuesday.

I feel bad and miss her already.

Karen's mom is settled into her new assisted living facility.

What a difference.

I can't believe that such poor facilities (like the last one) still exist in today's world.

We should've done a more thorough job researching.

Hopefully this will lighten the burden on Karen.

She has been so stressed out, and I do what I can around home.

(Gotta a light? Snickers with a chew stick looks as if she is ready to burn one.)

This week starts a new month.

March, winter seems so long this year, yet the new year seems to be flying by.

A new month, time to give the feeders a good cleaning.

Prep for spring.

Refreshing your water bird baths is a good thing too.

A week ago the Red-winged blackbirds appeared.

First a couple, and then scores of them.

Females will arrive in a couple of weeks.

Then the storm came.

Isn't that typical.

I think Red-winged blackbirds are the true harbingers of spring.

At least Up north that is.

Especially this year, when many robins decided to over winter.

This weeks topic is on the Red-winged blackbird.


Red-Winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus )

This species is one of the most widely distributed, abundant, well-known, birds in North America.


A medium-size passerine with a sharply pointed, strong bill, somewhat upright posture.

The male is black, including soft parts, with bright red shoulder patch or “epaulet,” bordered by yellow in most subspecies.

Immature males may appear as winter adult males, but heavily edged and fringed rusty, brown or buffy above, often showing buff supercilium.

Females are well streaked throughout, with whitish supercilium.

(The supercilium is a plumage feature found on the heads of some bird species. It is a stripe which runs from the base of the bird's beak above its eye, finishing somewhere towards the rear of the bird's head).

The face and underparts pale with dense streaking, broadly on breast and upper belly.

Peachy wash on chin and throat.

Dull reddish edges to lesser coverts create a poorly developed reddish epaulet.

Immature females appear as adult females, but epaulet not developed and throat lacks peachy wash.

Status and Distribution:

The Red-winged Blackbird is arguably one of the most well known and widely distributed birds in North America.

Population estimates are that nearly 200 million individuals occur in a range extending from SE Alaska and Canada across the lower 48 states and well into Central America.

It is abundant year round in most of its range, but northern populations withdraw to the south by November.

Its preferred habitat is a cattail marsh, but they can be found nearly anywhere in moist open shrubby habitat.

Vagrants are casual to Arctic Alaska, Greenland, and Iceland.

Because there are so many marshes and small wetlands near where i live, they can become a nuisance bird at my feeders.

Still, they are a welcome sight and Karen enjoys there calls.

Breeding, usually in cattail marsh, but also in moist open, shrubby habitats.

Migration: southern populations resident; northern ones short-distance migrants, which arrive in Northeast late February–March and leave by November.

Food consists mostly of vegetable matter such as weed seeds, waste grains and berries.

Animal foods consist of caterpillars, canker worms, grubs, grasshoppers, gypsy and other moths, beetles, and many other insect pests.

Especially when feeding babies.

When not nesting, these blackbirds congregate in
immense mixed flocks with cowbirds and grackles.

Mixed flocks may contain millions of individuals.

You can go to Red-Winged Blackbirds, to read more on these birds and their breeding and nest building.

Below are this past week's Northern Cardinals.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Fear is a powerful force.

Fear is not from God, but of the enemy.

Stand on the word of God.

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love,
and of a sound mind."

2 Timothy 1:7

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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