Monday, July 7, 2014

Stay Away from My Nest!

Anyone who had been around marshy areas in summer has seen the male Red-winged Blackbird raise the alarm when something wanders too close to his female's nest. It's happened to me, but I have never had the male actually attack me. They readily rise to harass passing hawks and crows, often striking blows on the tail of the passing intruder.  Recently I was on the wildlife drive at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and witnessed an attack that still surprised me a little.

Many groups of Canada Geese with goslings are present in the refuge in early July.  Close to the start of the drive, a channel runs along the drive.  It is rich with duck weed.  That is prime food for a wide range of  waterfowl including geese. There was one goose with four goslings working along an edge of cattails and as she led them forward, one male Red-winged Blackbird became upset with the goose.  The blackbird hovered overhead and raised its voice until the goose took notice.  I've seen this before.

Then, things changed.  He went on the attack.

In he dove on his target.

 Through this, the goslings seemed unaware of the situation.

 After a few choice blows with his beak, the Red-winged Blackbird returned to his cattail perch, and the goose led her four goslings a little further out from the cattails.  All returned to being peaceful. 

Paul Schmitt

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