On February 8th, I noticed that male Red-winged Blackbirds had moved into the cattails and begun to set up territories. I watched one male display repeatedly from the top the brown seed-head. It would puff out its wings to show the red epaulets, lean forward, and give its territorial song. This male was in a patch of cattails along the west side of Green Lake. A large willow tree separated this patch from a similar patch down the shoreline and the second patch had a second male calling away. When the second male flew from its set of cattails to the willow, the male I was watching moved onto a large willow branch where it increased its intensity of displaying and calling. The willow tree seemed to be the boundary between the territories for each of these males. After a few minutes of vigorous displaying, the two males returned to their respective cattail patch. On the March 15th, the two males were still vigorously displaying. I did not see a single female in or around the cattail patches. It will be interesting to see when they move in and start to build nests. Owning one of these patches is critical to successfully breeding and seeing these males vigorously defend them for several months before females arrive shows how important this is. Next time you walk along the west side of Green Lake check out the cattail patches to see if you can spot male or female Red-winged Blackbirds. They are a wonderful sight to see.
PS: The Spring Best of Northwest 2013 Art Show is this weekend, March 23 and 24th, at the Smith Cove Cruise Terminal on Pier 91 next to the Magnolia Bridge, 2001 West Garfield St, Seattle. I will be there showing some of my photographs. Come on down to enjoy the artwork, music, wine and beer. More than 140 artists will be present.