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Unusual Occurrence of Red-Winged Blackbirds at Grand Canyon, Arizona

Harold C. Bryant
Publication Information
2 (March-April)
From Field and Study

Unusual Occurrence of Rod-winged Blackbirds at Grand Canyon, Arizona.-A note in the Condor (47, 1945:219) calls attention to a winter record of a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds (Age&us phoeniceus) at Grand Canyon on December 13, 1943. Now we wish to record a more surprising winter occurrence of this bird at an elevation of 7000 feet in a piiion pine-juniper-ponderosa pine forest. On January 30, 1949, a flock of male Red-wings, carefully estimated at 35, dropped into a ponderosa pine tree near the mule barns at Grand Canyon, giving their characteristic call notes and displaying their red wing patches. As we watched, a flock of half the size of streaked females flew into a nearby tree. Apparently the same flock of males was again seen on February 1, when they moved through ponderosa pines near the public garage, apparently searching for food on the tips of branches, scattering snow as they worked. The flock of males was seen again on February 4, perched in a panderosa pine, preening their feathers. On February 6, apparently the same flock of males worked all morning in the ponderosa pines alongside the public garage. They appeared to be after pine seeds in the pine cones, for the wings of the pine seeds fluttered to the ground as they worked and dotted the snow beneath. Soon they found more normal feeding places at the company’s mule ham at Yaki Point, where they were noted on February 6, and at the government barns, where 35 were seen feeding on the afternoon of February 8. Again, on February 10, the birds were working in the ponderosa pines near the public garage. When in the same place on February 13, the scattered flock was frightened by a large flock of noisy Pifion Jays and took off with a whirr of wings, perching in a tall pine. As they slowly scattered to their feeding again, I was able to make an accurate count of 71, indicating that the original flock seen had been more than doubled. It then included some females and young males. On February 22, these Red-wings had taken to the few places free of snow along the rim. They were seen several more times up to the end of the month but had disappeared from the area by March 1. During February nearly three feet of snow lay on the ground and there were no places bare of snow for a distance of nearly fifty miles. Ground-feeding birds, like the Spotted Towhee, this winter were seen searching trees for food.-EARoLo C. BRYANT, Grand Canyon, Arizona, Septmher 12,1949.  

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