A Sign Of Fall?

Reminder:  You can enlarge any of the photos in this blog by clicking on it.  Click again for a full-screen image.

Last Sunday, as Sam Angevine and I drove around in agricultural country in southeastern Arizona, we came across a good-sized flock of birds foraging in a field.

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It was a densely packed group of several hundred individuals, and they were systematically working their way through what appeared to be alfalfa stubble, apparently searching for insects.  I made the photograph shown above.  Examining this image closely, I see more than one species.  There are what appear to be female Red-winged Blackbirds, and at least one or two juvenile male Red Wings in the group.  The group also seems to contain at least a couple of Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  I find that to be interesting.  In southeastern Arizona the Yellow Heads are migratory.  They gather here in huge flocks of many thousands of birds in the winter but head north for the summer.  Red Wings, by contrast, stay here year round, although they change their local habitat to suit the season (the
Red-winged Blackbirds that were so common at Sweetwater Wetlands in the spring are gone at the moment).

Does the apparent presence of some Yellow-headed Blackbirds in this flock signal the beginning of the fall migration?  I don’t know.  It’s still difficult to envision autumn here, with daytime high temperatures routinely exceeding 100 degrees, but still, all things change, and maybe, this is the beginning of that change.

Image made with a Canon 5Diii, 400DO+1.4X Extender, M setting, ISO 500, f7.1 @ 1/1000.

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