Thursday, May 20, 2010

How the Red-Wing Flies and Animal Ingenuity

All Red-winged Blackbird Photographs by W. A. Walters

After watching Red-tails so closely for so many years, I sometimes am scrutinizing them so closely I don't always see the wonder in some of the other common birds around me. Take the Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus, for instance.

They seem to be everywhere enjoying a bumper population, even eating seed under my bird feeder. Birdseed? Aren't they supposed to be hanging out in mushy areas? Well they are and they do but they too seem to be adapting to at least suburban areas if not urban ones.

They're certainly spunky. We've all seen the photographs of them riding a Red-tail's back while pecking her in the head.

But what else does it take to ride buteo?

Certainly if you're the size of a Red-wing, a Red-tail's back certainly has plenty of space for your feet but that hawk is attempting to get that head pecking Red-wing off by a variety of maneuvers and still they often stick until it appears they'll be brushed off by a limb. And then zip off they go with a hairs breath of escape time only to catch the Red-tail on the other side of the tree and do it again.

That takes great agility and speed.

A Red-wing also has the physicality to rise steep and fast somehow, it seems, without flapping just with sheer speed and lack of wind resistance.

Then over that hump of a tree and be on his way again with the look of little effort.

That sort of thing seems often done by meticulous us of wind power. Near the ground more effort in the flapping department is needed.

Going for the steep climb.

And he's soon high enough to be obscured by the trees. See him?

Then it's into the bomber stance of least wind resistance--Zoom!

A soaring turn.

And then chasing insects closer to the ground.

He's found a fair cloud of them and then just keeps on going mouth open and knoshing.

One moment he is there and and then in another, whoosh and he's gone. Without a speck of concern about what I'm doing or the hawks are doing, just riding the wind spectacularly and having dinner at the same time.

A discovery from Storm (by way of daughter Samantha), a member of the Drew U. Covert Rehab Triage Duckling Nabbing Squad--

As to the bear --

There is no question in my mind,

I mean look at the ingenuity, creativity, and balance,

that she's gone to Barnum and Bailey's Clown School. And that the filler of the bird feeder would have been better pleased if she hadn't.

Seriously though what that very large mammal just did is truly quite amazing for the diameter of the rope. Think large bulky paws and the perfect control of sharp teeth not to bite through sad rope plus the bending an acrobatics necessary to grab the feeder. To say nothing of figuring out the several step procedure to get to the goal.

And from Robin of Illinois, a chicken that broods kittens--

And also from Robin a sequence of a Cat and a Gull which I find has many levels of thought and behavior on both the cat and the gulls part concerning what is actually going on-

Donegal Browne


Anonymous said...

Hi Donna! I also had Red Winged Blackbirds at my feeder, much to my surprise, earlier this spring. I had never seen them before in my neighborhood at all! And I find it amazing that you can follow flying birds so well and catch such great pics!!!

Donegal Browne said...

Hi Anonymous,
Actually I can't take credit for the Red-wing photos those were shot by Bill Walters (See photo credit for W. A. Walters.) He certainly has a sharp eye and a steady hand when it comes to following birds in flight doesn't he?

Just the other day, Mr. Red-wing was still around the yard so I suspect he has a nest somewhere though I've not seen the female though they are fare blander and more wary than the males so that isn't all that unusual.