Bear River’s Yellow-Headed Blackbirds

Long, long ago I might have driven all the way to Bear River to get shots of Yellow-Headed Blackbirds since I was thrilled the first time I saw one in Colorado, even further away. At this point, I doubt I would be able to capture a better shot than the ones I already have since they’re definitely not a shy bird. However, since I rarely see them, I can’t resist the temptation to photograph one when I do see them.

This time of year there were very few male Yellow-Headed Blackbirds classically posed on the top of reeds calling for female companions while challenging male rivals. Instead, they were on the ground gathering food.

It wasn’t too hard to see why they were out collecting food. This youngster wasn’t shy about letting mom know that it was hungry,

only stopping when she finally paid attention to it.

Immediately after she flew off, the juvenile made it clear that it needed food NOW.

Luckily, dad was hanging out nearby simply waiting for the annoying photographer to leave so it could return to its nest with this delicious tidbit.

This is NOT a Cinnamon Teal

While writing yesterday’s post I happened to reference Cinnamon Teal online, and they suggested that the Ruddy Duck was a “similar species.” We did see several Ruddy Ducks in the same general habitat as the Cinnamon Teals, but it was immediately clear when I saw a Ruddy Duck.

If it’s a male in breeding colors,

it’s impossible to confuse the two. The Ruddy Duck’s bright blue bill is unmistakable, as is that upright tail.

If that’s not enough, the bold white cheeks

are totally unlike those of the Cinnamon Teal.

In fact, about the only similarity I can see in the two is that they both have the same cinnamon colored body.

Don’t be fooled: This is undoubtedly a male Ruddy Duck.

Cinnamon Teals

Although I’ve seen Cinnamon Teal in California, Oregon and Washington, I’ve definitely gotten my best pictures of them in Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge over the years, and this visit was no exception. Until I revisited their website I didn’t realize the Cinnamon Teal was as a priority species and that “Northern Utah’s wetlands, including the Refuge, host up to 60% of the continental breeding population of Cinnamon teal. The Refuge wetlands and neighboring fine-structured grasslands provide necessary feeding and nesting habitat.”

No wonder, then, that in the first pool where I found the juvenile American Coots I also found this beautiful male Cinnamon Teal.

I’ve never seen a Cinnamon Teal that looked quite like this,

but I assume that it must be changing from its eclipse (basic) plumage to its breeding plumage.

Although we didn’t see any Cinnamon Teal ducklings (that we could identify), we did see a lot of couples,

and these two that appeared to be nesting.