Bird #200 — Yellow-headed Blackbird

xanthocephalus (from xanthos, yellow, and kephale, head) xanthocephalus (ditto)

Friday, April 17, 1981 — 9:10 am

South Barrington, Illinois — Mundhank Road

I heard about these Yellow-headed Blackbirds on the hotline.  The small marsh where they were seen is approximately a mile east of Barrington Road about three miles from Crabtree, but I had never been there.  In 1981, the area was farmland.  The open water was surrounded by a thick band of reeds.  Three or four Yellow-headed Blackbirds were singing in the brush and reeds about thirty yards from where I stood.  They occasionally glided out over the pond to land a different perch.

This is a beautiful bird, and the Lord, to keep them from getting conceited, gave them the worst birdsong in the bird world.  They puff themselves up all proud and call forth with what appears to be maximum effort.  And out comes this raucous, hoarse cacophony.  It sounds like a truck-full of chickens crashing through a hardware store.  They sing even worse than I do.

The blackbirds were there for a number of years, but no longer.  Willow Creek Community Church opened up another entrance drive on Mundhank Road, changing it from a quiet country road to a narrow, dangerous, busy thoroughfare.  Across the road, in what was a weedy field, someone placed a foul-smelling landfill that dispenses loose pieces of paper all over the neighborhood and marsh.  The band of reeds have been removed and the pond is now bordered by a housing development.  Progress stinks.

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