Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Yellow-headed Blackbirds

According to the National Geographic Society's "Field Guide to Birds of North America," yellow-headed blackbirds aren't supposed to be seen here in Western Oklahoma.  While we've seen them before, it's been like a rare one or two a year.  This year they've apparently made a wrong turn somewhere, because we've seen them nearly everyday in groups of 20 or so, and on a few days, had flocks of hundreds of them here.  The whole front yard, side yard, and back were covered with them.  Jean puts out large quantities of wildbird seed, and that is probably what kept the few coming back every day, and their presence may well have been what attracted a large migrating flock.

Anyhow, they've been interesting to watch.  They fly away quickly at the least provocation, but quickly return.  On their departure, the roar of wings is loud enough to be clearly heard inside the closed house.  When they come back in, they appear to literally fall out of the air.  Their call is unmistakable, and one not to be forgotten once you've heard it.  It starts with a loud hoarse croak and then trails off in a descending buzzing sound.

Today has not been a normal, run-of-the-mill day by any definition.  This, of course, starts with 35-40 mph winds for most of the last week, so we're a bit weather-weary to start with.  Fire sirens start first thing this morning, and shortly thereafter, the electrical power goes out.  We were to learn later that the fire caused damage at the electrical sub-station, destroying equipment for which they had no replacements.  Those were ordered and arrived, and the repairs had service repaired by around 3:30.
This was while a severe cold front was coming through that dropped the temperature 13 degrees in an hour.  From a high of 85 degrees yesterday, the mercury is supposed to keep falling until wind chills will be in the mid-20's in the morning with snow and sleet---in May!

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