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…).