Singing male Red-winged Blackbird.

Throwback Thursday travels back to Saskatchewan in the 1990s. With no sign of spring arriving in Ontario I thought a spring photo of a species that arrives in Canada for the summer would be nicer than another photo of snow and ice.

This male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) has recently arrived in Saskatchewan to spend the summer and is singing to establish a breeding territory. I’ve always liked the backlighting on the bird that’s illuminating the red epaulettes that give the male birds their name.

Backlit male Red-winged Blackbird proclaiming its territory.

Shiny Grackle.

The new Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is Shiny.

My initial ideas involved ice as winter seems to be dragging on in this part of Ontario.

I then started thinking about some of the bird species with iridescent plumage and thought of the male Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) that should be arriving in Ontario soon. They’re quite a colourful species in the right light although not very popular with some people who feed the birds when they descend in large flocks.

A portrait of a male Common Grackle on the South Bruce Peninsula, Ontario in the spring.

A shiny male Common Grackle.

A juvenile Pine Siskin.

Sunday morning saw me lying in the yard behind the camera. I had set up my ground pod to try for some shots of the Squirrels, Chipmunks and whatever bird species decided to feed on the ground. I was expecting Common Grackles, Blue Jays and other larger species. I wanted to get as close as possible to eye level with the subjects.

A few weeks ago I got a low profile ball head for the ground pod. It would allow the lens to be about 3/4 inch lower than the ball head I had been using. Coupled with a couple of other changes I could now get the lens more than an inch lower to the ground.

So my initial set up was as low to the ground as possible. I then remembered a lesson learned in the 1980s. You can get to low, it’s hard to see through the viewfinder and you can’t see smaller species for vegetation sometimes.

So I swapped the 3/4 inch bolts that act as legs on the ground pod for the 3 inch bolts. This allowed me to see the juvenile Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) as it fed in the grass.

Pine Siskin juvenile.