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Amazing Photos Of Singing Blackbird Creating Vortex Rings With His Breath

Bird photographer Kathrin Swoboda captured shots of a red-winged blackbird “forming smoke rings with his Spring song” in Huntley Meadows Park, in Virginia.

Swoboda set out toward Huntley Meadows Park, an island in Virginia favored by nature photographers for its wildlife-friendly wetlands. Here, she hoped to photograph the male red-wing blackbird, a robin-sized species of bird known for its crimson shoulder markings and distinctive throaty song. “Specifically,” Swoboda tells My Modern Met, “I wanted to photograph their breath, which when expelled would condense in the cold air.”

Fortunately, Swoboda found a suitable subject: a “quite vociferous” blackbird. As he vigorously called out for a potential mate, the bird began “forming smoke rings with his spring song.” Due to both the chilly early morning temperatures and her strategic use of the morning sun as backlighting, Swoboda was able to capture this phenomenon in a pair of stunning photographs, with one even earning Swoboda the grand prize of this year’s Audubon Photography Awards.

blackbird vortex rings

blackbird vortex rings

Male Red-Winged Blackbird up close and personal.

“Males are black with red shoulder patch that is sometimes concealed. Males have rusty feather edges in the winter. Females are streaked brown and often confused with sparrows. Look for long, sharply pointed bill. Often in flocks, especially in winter. Visits feeders. Breeds in marshes and scrubby, wet fields. Distinctive song, especially as migrants arrive in early spring.”