Red-winged Blackbird Trying To Get At Those Pesky Sunflower Seeds

The seeds were still on the wild plants and they weren’t easy to reach which resulted in some fun photos.

Recently I posted images of a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow as it attempted to feed on these same hard to reach sunflowers. The seeds are in flower clusters at the end of long, flimsy stalks that couldn’t support the weight of the sparrow so the bird kept struggling to reach them and falling off. Well, this female Red-winged Blackbird weighs almost twice as much as the sparrow (1.8 oz. versus 1 oz.) so you can imagine the difficulties for the blackbird.

  • These photos were taken in fairly low light and I wanted plenty of shutter speed for the action so I’m shooting at unusually high ISO’s. The face of the bird is slightly soft in some of the later images because my active focus points kept grabbing onto parts of the plants in front of the bird.

 

1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

I photographed the female Red-winged Blackbird 13 days ago on Antelope Island. Here she’s apparently surveying the masses of flower heads around her and trying to decide which ones might still contain seeds (many of them have already been picked clean of seeds by other birds).

 

 

1/3200, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

First she had to find a stable perch which wasn’t easy.

 

 

1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Once the flower stalk stopped waving and bouncing around she found some stability but…

 

 

1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

whenever she moved around she lost her balance.

 

 

1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

She managed to successfully turn on the perch and here she’s apparently deciding which flower cluster to go after. Notice that the two clusters on the left have already been picked clean of seeds (as indicated by their lighter color) but the darker cluster at center bottom of the image is still loaded with seeds. That cluster of seeds became her goal.

 

 

1/3200, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

But reaching it without falling off wasn’t easy. She reached down and tried to grab the stalk that flower cluster was on so she could pull it up toward her. But when that failed…

 

 

1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

she once again turned on the perch…

 

 

1/5000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

and tried to reach it from the other side.

 

 

1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

She (barely) managed to grab it in her beak…

 

 

1/5000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

and started to pull it up toward her but when she began to lose her balance again…

 

 

1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

it slipped out of her grasp as she almost fell off the perch.

 

 

1/4000, f/5.6, ISO 1250, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This is the last photo I kept of her attempt at those particular seeds and I don’t believe she ever succeeded at getting any of them.

But it was sure fun watching and photographing her as she tried.

Ron

 

 

 

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