Yellow Heads’ Pool Party

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I went driving around yesterday with my friend Sam Angevine, looking for things to photograph.  Towards the end of the day we drove past a feedlot in a rural area.  There, among the cattle were hundreds — perhaps thousands — of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, mixed in with birds of other species.  Cattle being fattened at feedlots get fed grain, huge quantities of it, and the birds, obviously, were drawn by the prospect of easy pickings.

But, something else diverted their attention, at least for a moment.  It had rained on Saturday and there were large pools of standing water in and around the feedlot.  The Yellow Heads were reveling in it, splashing and playing like small children at the shallow end of a community pool.

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They kept at it for a few minutes before tiring of the fun and going back to foraging.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds can be seen in spring and summer throughout the northern tier of the western United States.  In winter they migrate south, down into Arizona and Mexico.  Huge flocks of them spend their winters in and around Tucson.   They like marshes and they love to roost in reeds and cattails.  There are usually hundreds of them at Sweetwater Wetlands.  They show up in big flocks in late afternoon and promptly make themselves invisible deep inside the reed beds.  Then, in the morning, they depart for places like the feedlot where they can gorge on seeds and grain.

Photo taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 400, aperture preferred setting, f5 @ 1/2500.

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