Project Chekov: Xanthocephalus

This guy totally lucked out on Project Chekov.  When planning this project I was a little worried about two postings – specifically the 21st and the 24 (which happens to be this one).  There was nothing in the tin for a Sabine’s Gull or a Terek Sandpiper.  By the looks of their regions it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting either of those anytime soon.  But there was one option still left … one long shot that might just save me, but that would require me to go digging through the pictures taken during a side trip out to Yellowstone last May.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have success!

On our way out West, Linda found a birding preserve not too far off the path.  I’ll go into where that was when I finally get around to posting about that trip, but there was a number of memorable finds there that stuck out.  This particular bird was one of those – without further delay, please welcome Xanthocephalus Xanthocephalus to the blog.  One second while I add a new check mark to the birding list….

Cornell’s website states they are Migratory across Illinois, but I have never seen one here (for that matter anywhere until then) so not buying that – for the record, Wikipedia does not indicate it hangs out in Illinois either.  I would not forget a bird sporting this distinct of a color palette.  To save some typing let’s just call it by its non-scientific name, the Yellow-Headed Blackbird (Mr. Obvious bird namer strikes again).  It was pretty easy to tell from the behavior that this was a close relative of the Red-Winged Blackbird based on it’s aggressive behavior and nonstop squawking.  It just replaced the red wing highlights with a bright yellow hood – well, at least the males.  The females and juvis all sport the boring brown.

I went ahead and added this next picture to the set even though it was slightly soft.  It showed the white markings which is generally only visible when it is flying – it was windy that day and was doing its best to stay balanced on the cattail.

Big thanks to Linda for finding that location.  We were the ONLY ones there and had the entire acreage to ourselves – well, ourselves and a ton of birds both on land and water.  I could have spent the entire day there but eventually we had to get back on the road again – that and the mosquito repellant was running low.  Look for more shots to come from that shoot, but for now we’ll call this another successful entry in Project Chekov.


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