Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Waiting for Spring

This scene is very common in Mid-Michigan this time of year. In this photo from early April 2008, a male Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) guards his patch of marsh and awaits Spring and the return of the female Red-winged Blackbirds.  The males arrive first and compete for the best territories.  When the females arrive, they will seek out a male that controls a suitable territory.  If a male has a suitable territory, often more than one female will choose him as a mate and settle within his territory.  Males with the best territories will have an average of five females (sometimes as many as 15) nesting within that territory.  Because those males with the best territories have the most opportunities to mate and pass on their genes, competition for territory is fierce.  Once a territory has been won it is jealously guarded, with the male attacking other birds, mammals, even people that enter his domain.

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