Photo of the Week – May 7, 2011

As I was walking along one of our restored wetlands this week, I stumbled upon a pile of black feathers, with a few tiny red ones mixed in.  I’m guessing it was the remains of a red-winged blackbird, but was surprised at the white bases of the red feathers.  I can’t think of any other bird that would have that combination of colors, though, especially along a wetland like that.  These two tiny red-tipped feathers were stuck on a grass blade right next to the larger pile.

Tiny feathers from an alleged red-winged blackbird stuck to some grass near a bigger pile of mostly black feathers. The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

I wonder if the blackbird fell victim to the same Cooper’s hawk I’d seen in the same area a couple weeks before.  That one dropped a half-plucked, still alive robin as I drove past on an ATV (I hope the hawk came back and finished the job…).

This entry was posted in General, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.

5 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – May 7, 2011

  1. Chris; Beautiful photo. Love to get under the wing of a Red-wing blackbird to see if the roots are white (like mine). Cheers, Mark.

    • Ha! Pretty small feathers for that… And the big pile of black feathers next to it would suggest otherwise! Unless the flamingo killed and ate a blackbird… do they do that in Indiana??

  2. Hmmm, these feathers don’t look like wing coverts but more like breast, underbelly, or even head feathers. If there wasn’t a “big pile of black feathers” nearby, I would have said some other species, maybe an orange-shafted flicker, red-headed woodpecker, or red-bellied woodpecker. Mystery in the meadow….

    • You know, I wondered about that too, but the wetland location and the black feathers that were the right size for blackbird made me go that direction. Maybe the red feathers are from the hunter, not the hunted? But what the heck would THAT be??


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