My partner and I stealth camped our car after paddle boarding one night. As soon as we woke up at dawn, we drove to a day-use area to eat breakfast. Near Hot Sulfur Springs, Colorado, we found a nice spot away from the road on the Colorado River. As soon as we sat down, we looked across the river and spotted a red-winged blackbird.
At first, I thought we were watching a small crow until I saw a brief glimpse of red on the wing. This made me grab the camera and look closer through the lens. The closer look coupled with the distinct song, I knew that we saw the red-winged blackbird.
It flew back and forth along the opposite bank of the river. Another joined it and they called back and forth. After awhile, one flew to a snag on the same bank of the Colorado River as us. With not ideal lighting, I captured a few images of the red-winged blackbird. I could see the red patch as it moved around, but I had a hard time getting it with the camera.
Then, as I walked around, it flew to a nearby cedar sapling in the morning sunlight. It fiddled around on the top of the cedar, exposing the red shoulder on the wing. Below, a mix of grasses and reeds lined the river on either side.
Here are some cool facts to help you identify the Red-Winged Blackbird:
Red-Winged Blackbird General Characteristics:
- 13 inch wingspan
- Male is jet black with one patch of red on wing shoulders
- Female is mottled brown with white and brown streaks on breast
- Can eat farmed grain, but also eats farmed grain insect pests
- Nests near water, sometimes over
- Eats insects, seeds, some spiders
- Very territorial, the red patch helps them gain territory within the blackbird community
- Riparian areas in general
- Marshes with nearby fields
- Like to be near cottontails, tall weeds, and reeds
- Can be near pastures
- Widespread from Canada to Central America
- East to West coasts of North America
- Northern North American Red-Winged Blackbirds migrate
Red-Winged Blackbird & The Nature Journal
I knew for this spread, I needed a photo with the famed red-spot on the shoulder, so I started there. This is why I like to combine photography and sketching in my nature journal. Where one lacks, the other picks up the slack. I talk about this in the Basics of Nature Journaling.
For the sketch, I used one of the first photo on the snag to gain a sense of the shape of the red-winged blackbird. Because the photo had good view of the red spot, I wanted the perched shape to take form in the sketch.
Since I found out such cool facts about the red spot, the text took up a lot of space. I really found it fascinating that the red spot can help determine territories amongst their own species. I wanted these here for quick reference later on in my nature exploration journey. And, I tend to remember things better if I write them down. For great information, I used the National Geographic Bird Guide.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row _builder_version=”4.7.7″ _module_preset=”default” column_structure=”1_2,1_2″][et_pb_column _builder_version=”4.7.7″ _module_preset=”default” type=”1_2″][et_pb_image src=”https://travelingnaturejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/RWBBPin1.png” _builder_version=”4.7.7″ _module_preset=”default” alt=”Red-Winged Blackbirds like to build their nests near riparian habitats like rivers and streams. Learn more at travelingnaturejournal.com” title_text=”RWBBPin1″ hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column _builder_version=”4.7.7″ _module_preset=”default” type=”1_2″][et_pb_image src=”https://travelingnaturejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/RWBBPin2.png” _builder_version=”4.7.7″ _module_preset=”default” alt=”Learn how to Nature Journal amazing birds like the Red-Winged Blackbird. Get some journal inspiration at travelingnaturejournal.com” title_text=”RWBBPin2″ hover_enabled=”0″ sticky_enabled=”0″][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]