Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bye bye blackbirds

The Red winged blackbirds are gone from the pond and I haven't seen a robin for some time. Since I am not quite ready for fall (or winter) I thought I would share these Red winged blackbird pictures that earlier in the summer.

I took the first few pictures in May.

As you probably already know:
"The Red-winged Blackbird is sexually dimorphic; the male is all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar, while the female is a nondescript dark brown." (Wikipedia)
First there is the male, watchful but not very involved in the raising of the chicks.


Here is the female gathering food: seeds and insects make up the bulk of their diet.

Sometimes I take a picture and don't realize until later that I have something special. This next picture is of the female glaring at me from the reeds in the pond at Jericho Park. Later when I looked more carefully at the picture I realized that I had managed to get a picture not only of her nest but also the young in the nest (bottom right of the picture).

Red winged blackbird females build a nest in the reeds, over the water, and are rather secretive about its location. Had I known that I had caught sight of her nest I would surely have taken more pictures, but I am more than happy with just one.
The next series of pictures was taken in July, perhaps (probably not) the same pair of birds, but this time the young are fledged and fending for themselves.

It was raining lightly but I met a man who comes each day to feed the birds, and they come and eat from his hand. Naturally I had to stop and take a few pictures. Some of these birds are young, some immature males judging by the markings.

Notice how slim the one below is, and striking a very elegant pose for the camera.


Here is the "old guy" again, I loved the range of expressions.

As the title of my post suggests, the blackbirds are gone now, they left in September, migrating south for the winter.

The blackbirds, swallows and robins are all gone, but they'll return next Spring and I'll be waiting.

""Bye, Bye, Blackbird" is a song published in 1926 by the American composer Ray Henderson and lyricist Mort Dixon. It is considered a popular standard and was first recorded by Gene Austin in 1926." (Wikipedia)

Here is that first recording thanks to You Tube:

 Well this week I have some paintings to share with you. The first one is of Red winged Blackbirds, it is one that I have been working on for more than a month. I "lost" it somewhere along the way and I have done all I can to save it but I am still not happy with the result, I like parts of it very much, and I have spent so much time on it that I am sad to say enough is enough. It is called "Triangles" and is a watercolour:

I also finished another painting this week, on last week's theme of Dahlias. Is is a poured watercolour that I have called "White Lightning" and I am very happy with this one. Here it is:
Well that is about all for this week, except to say that I have been having some trouble with my computer and with blogger freezing up on me, very frustrating, and so the last two posts have ended up "published" when they are not supposed to be and I have sent them back to draft. Anyone who is following the blog by email feed will have gotten an email when such post available, so I apologize if  this has happened to you.

Happy Whimsy Wednesday, until next week.......


  1. A great series of photos of the Blackbirds. It is just perfect that your photo of the female also included the nest with young ones in it. Great coincidences like that are one reason why I like photography so much. "White Lightning" is beautiful! You are very talented! - Photos and paintings.

  2. Gillian, what a great post on the RW Blackbirds. Great capture of the female at the nest. So , now you the reason for her glare. She was protecting her babies. So cute! Your watercolors are just beautiful. I love both the Blackbirds and the dahlias. The names you have given them are perfect. You are very talented. Have a great day!

  3. A really uplifting post and Triangles is brilliant.

  4. i love both paintings, but the moody marshy blackbird one really appeals to me - you didn't lose it at all!

    i love the handfeeding birds! so cool! i think the females are as lovely as the males.

  5. Not all the red-winged blackbirds have left Ontario yet. I saw a few in a local marsh just yesterday. Your painting is exquisite!

  6. Wowee, feeding from a mans hand, he must have been around there for a number of years. Beautiful all them, and photographed, splendid. Your painting of the Blackbirds is genuine fantastic.

  7. It's sad that the birds are all leaving, I didn't know that the blackbirds leave for the winter. That would explain a lot...

    Amazing paintings, I love both of them, the light in the dahlia painting is stunning.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  8. Feeding birds by hand would be a dream come true! The blackbirds are beautiful, your art is stunning!

  9. Oh, that cute but thin little bird eating out of a person’s hand looks like it could use the extra help. I like both the drawings you posted. Your brush strokes seem sensitive to the creatures and natural wonders that surround us.

  10. I love both of your paintings. You are very talented. I also enjoyed your photography. The fledglings do have a wide range of expression and the adults are good too.

  11. I love the blackbirds, you got some great shots, especially the one with nest. It doesn't seem fair that the males are so pretty and the females so plain but . . . that's nature. As usual, a great selections of pictures to inspire me.

  12. You have to use that Google Chrome for things to work better again. It's really dumb. I recv'd a tip after we were forced to make the change. When I went through this system, it stopped freezing up. Hang in there. I know. I could have thrown my laptop at the wall.

    Love your blackbirds painting. I think they've flown our way. Also great closeups on the females. Tricky as they are more hidden in the grasses and reeds.

    The shots that really spoke to me on this post were the ones with the hand. The hand is very interesting and speaks volumes. It's probably weird that I like that but it's true.....the hands are incredible. Have a good week.

  13. Your paintings are lovely. And those shots of the birds feeding from the hand - amazing!

  14. Hi there - great pictures and paintings.

    I have wanted to see Red-Winged Blackbirds in the flesh (feather?) for a long time. I think I need to get a trip organised!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Australia

  15. a wonderful tribute to your blackbird. It is a gorgeous bird, both the male and female. Hopefully they comes back. :)

  16. I have only known Blackbirds by the lyrics of Morning Has Broken: “Morning has broken, like the first morning, Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird ....” It’s a beautiful bird and I’m charmed by the female graceful pose as you pointed out. Your painting is gorgeous as always, my favorite is the Dahlia


  17. Beautiful photographs, wonderful birds. I am greeting

  18. Gillian, what a treat, seeing those wonderful birds! They used to nest in our pond, and we haven't seen them the past two years. I miss their cheery song. You have some great close ups.

    Your two paintings are wonderful, and you must be your own worst critic, because they look perfect to me.

  19. Lovely blackbird pictures, Gillian. I remember seeing the males when I lived in Ottawa, although can't seem to recall the females! As always, your artwork is delicious: that blackbird painting is just beautiful!

  20. The markings on both the male and female blackbirds are delightful, although very different.

    I like both your paintings Gillian and can see why you are very happy with the second. The petals look like they are moving, opening as you watch.

  21. I am late commenting on this post but enjoyed feeling your pleasure at discovering the young in their nest. I am glad that man is still going regularly to feed the birds. I came across him many times when i was living near Jericho. I think both the male and female redwings are lovely, each in their own way.