Sunday, July 5, 2009

What is that black bird with the yellow head?

Yellow-headed BlackbirdLike a cat coughing up a furball, the strangled "creaky-hinge" song of the Yellow-headed Blackbird is as painful to watch being delivered as it is to listen to. Hines, Oregon on 24 May 2009 by Greg Gillson.


Here is another photo from my trip to Oregon's Malheur National Wildlife Refuge during the Memorial Day weekend of late May.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are a bird of prairie wetlands in western North America. They love large tule and cattail expanses. They breed north to interior British Columbia east to the Great Lakes and south to northern Arizona and New Mexico. They winter in agricultural lands and feedlots in the SW US and northern half of Mexico.

Although a few birds may winter in the Pacific NW, most arrive on territory in April and remain into September. In the Pacific Northwest they are found primarily east of the Cascades and Sierra-Nevada Mountains. This bird is one of the obvious and unique birds of the Malheur NWR area, attracting the attention of all visitors, whether birders or not.

The female is smaller, browner, with the duller yellow more restricted to the lower face and throat.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds will visit backyard feeders near their breeding wetlands. They eat mixed seeds and cracked corn, spending much time on the ground feeding. They will also be attracted to bird baths for drinking.