Nature Notes

April 23, 2008

The object of affection

Filed under: Canada,Morphism — Tags: , — Harold Stiver @ 7:56 am

Female Red-winged Blackbird

Yesterday I posted about the Red-winged Blackbird male as one of the earliest arrivals among the migrants in North America. The female, shown here, generally shows up a few days later, after the males have had a chance to establish territories.

This species is an example of sexual dimorphism, where the sexes of the same species differ. In birds these difference may show up in size, plumage, and the appearance of body parts used in display. The differences in this species is striking in plumage differences,and the female lacks the bright red epaulets that the male uses in display.

Immature birds often look like females with perhaps some aspect of male plumage. See the following image of an immature Red-winged Blackbird whose hen-like plumage shows some portion of his future epaulets.

Red-winged Blackbird immature

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