Late-summer blackbird flocks

Time for my annual late-summer post about the flocks of blackbirds in our marsh. Each year at this time, they get up in huge flocks and come out of the marsh right as the sun is coming over the trees. I try to get down to the river most mornings to see it.

It begins down river from us, in the phragmites in the distance in this photo

You can hear them before you can see them. After a while they begin to fly up into the treetops across the river. Right about the middle of this photo – (shooting this stuff is awful, it shows me all the dust on my cameras’ sensors)


It’s easiest to see them on bare or nearly bare branches against the sky – but they’re on every branch regardless.

They begin to leave those trees in flocks that at first seem large…


When they get up over me, they begin to catch the sunlight…they’re almost all red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) and common grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) as far as I can tell.

As they get up in the sky, there’s two (or more) places to watch – those up there…

And the larger flocks now moving up to take their place…

Then it really begins to get big…

The sound is as impressive as the sight…

a few pictures as I tried to follow the whole flock both coming up and across the sky…

Once the large flocks begin to move, the whole thing only lasts about a minute, maybe a minute & 1/2.


Now – count ’em. There’s a lot of them…


A short video from 2 weeks ago. The flock gets bigger for a while, then it will taper off in a while…some of these birds leave here in the autumn, but some winter-over now.

13 thoughts on “Late-summer blackbird flocks

  1. Fascinating, thanks for sharing. The video really provides a good view of the scale and the sounds. Is this something that occurs daily? Is this a practice run for when they head south or are they already heading somewhere else? Thanks.

  2. It must be amazing to see that big of a flock! Once you mentioned the red winged blackbirds, I realized that mine have gone. I live in Ohio. Mine must be on their way to you,maybe part of one of the flocks you see.

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