Date: 3/6/18 5:34 pm
From: Jason Horn <0000007179661740-dmarc-request...>
Subject: Interesting Blackbird behavior
Today after finding a Yellow-headed Blackbird among 50,000+ blackbirds I notice an interesting interaction between female Red-winged Blackbirds and both male and female Brown-headed Cowbirds. The cowbirds would nestle up to the blackbirds and would bend there necks placing their bill on their chest while flaring their neck feathers. After doing this many of the female blackbirds would start preening the cowbirds. If the blackbird would moved to another perch the cowbird would often follow the blackbird and nestle up to initiate more preening. I saw at least eight different interactions like this with in a few minutes while taking a break from trying to locate the Yellow-headed Blackbird. I imagine that the blackbirds where removing and likely eating parasites from the cowbirds. It seems odd that the blackbirds would interact this way with a spieces that they will soon be trying to chase away from their nests. It was an interesting behavior to see.
As for the Yellow-headed Blackbird, it was either a first year male or a female. It had a bright yellow chest, but I was unable to see if it had any white in the wings. The flock was moving between the fields and woods making it hard to relocate. The flock stayed in the area several hours and may remain in the area tomorrow.
On a side note I saw what I am sure was an adult male Yellow-headed Blackbird last Wednesday near Bath. The bird was in a small flock seen flying by in the fading evening light.
So take some time looking at the blackbird flocks, you just might find something interesting.

Have fun birding

Jason Horn
Join us on Facebook!