I watch many nature programs on television and am in awe when a photographer captures fish swimming in schools. The photographer is in the water and using a video camera to capture their movement. Recently I was walking to an area to observe sandhill cranes and had a camera with a zoom lens on it. All of a sudden I observed hundreds of yellow-headed blackbirds! Fortunately for me the birds landed on the ground or up in a tree so I could identify them.
What I had never seen firsthand was a large flock of birds moving as one from the ground to a tree, to another tree, and in a formation that blackened the sky and other moments looked like a flowing funnel. My photos do not capture the awe of the 15 minutes while these blackbirds remained in their flock.
Yellow-headed blackbirds basically form large flocks in winter for the same reason as fish form schools, smaller odds of getting eaten by a predator. Scientists report blackbirds being good communicators and will share food information with each other during this season. Wow, what a sight to see and after seeing a Cooper’s hawk and northern harrier in the area, the yellow-headed blackbirds are smart to flock!