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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

River of Blackbirds, NH

(click to enlage image)

Last night we went to see the river of blackbirds, a stream of estimated 360,000 plus Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds going to roost at dusk. We viewed them from the Target parking lot on Rt. 33 near the Greenland, Portsmouth town line.

Starting about 4 pm, the river began,

And flowed, sometimes directly over our head.

Here are a few grackles right above us, most were about 200-400 feet above us.

There's no way to capture the density, and the constant sound of blackbird call notes.

Seeing the Target sign gives some sense of proportion and density of the blackbirds.

The pepperflakes above Don's head were the blackbirds.

What a phenomena!! We stood there for about an hour watching this amazing black river flow above our heads. We estimated they were going by at a rate of about 5-6,000 birds a minute. Several other birders were there, and several cars stopped and asked us what was that. Gave us an opportunity to educate.
Just the sheer magnitute was overwhelming and awe-inspiring. That may be the most number of birds we have seen at any one time. We have seen large Crow roosts in New England, but not in these numbers.
These birds were all going to roost for the night in the nearby great bog area of tall grasses. There are many theories about roosts, such as birds do it for safety in numbers from predators, or they do it because some birds may have the opportunity to follow well-fed birds to prime food sources the next day. But more research is needed into the full extent of why this occurs.


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

That is an amazing sight.I can imagine the sound,must have been loud.

Anonymous said...

Just read that Mike McDowell is retiring his blog. I'll miss reading it.

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

We'll miss Mike's blog too.