Foam Lake Birding No. 52

No. 52
First, here is an update on the status of the Collared Dove. After hearing and seeing it for several weeks in and around our yard, it seems to have moved on. It has been several weeks since I last heard it. Because there was only one dove around, it is an even bet that it moved elsewhere in hope of finding a mate. We wish it luck.
One of our more colourful and conspicuous marsh birds is the Yellow Headed Blackbird. Even though it lives in marshes, it is more closely related to its upland relative, the Meadowlark than to its wetland neighbour and distant relative the Red Winged Blackbird.
The Yellow Headed Blackbird is Robin sized and one of the largest perching birds found in marshes. The all black males with their conspicuous white wing patches and bright yellow heads are unmistakable. The females are a much more subdued striped brown colour with faint yellow head markings and faint white wing patches. Even though Yellow Headed Blackbirds are considered songbirds, they certainly have not lived up to their potential. They do sing, but the various renditions are awful to say the least, except to other Yellow Heads.
Unlike the Red Wings, which can be found in any little pond that is capable of sustaining a few rushes, the Yellow Heads require larger bodies of water with a good growth of reeds and cattails. Like the Red Wings the Yellow Heads are territorial and do not nest in dense colonies like, for example, the Purple Martins.
Although the Yellow Headed is common in larger sloughs around here, it is a bit of a rarity in much of the USA. As a result many birders will go to great lengths to observe one. Locally, all we have to do is go to any of our larger sloughs and watch. For example, this week’s photo was taken just off the transcanada highway east of Tuffnell. I particularly like this slough because a narrow country road, with very little traffic, runs through it providing an excellent viewing area. If anybody wants to see a variety of shore, water and marsh birds this location is a must. Not only are there a lot of birds, but one can get quite close to them. The birds seem to sense that humans just have to stay on the road and will not bother them in the water and muck.
Considering the number of country and back roads in the area, I am sure that there are other places that are just as productive. One just has to try.
For the next three or four weeks I will be busy with other matters and will be unable to write any birding articles during that time. To those readers who read the articles, I apologize. “See” you in August.