I had an exciting bird photography opportunity yesterday during a drive through the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge auto tour road. As I was driving back to the start of the loop, I spotted a striking male Red-winged Blackbird perched on a tall weed stalk. I quickly pulled my truck over and grabbed my camera to capture some images of this beautiful bird.

A Striking Male Red-winged Blackbird

A Striking Male Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds are a very common sight at the refuge, but I always enjoy photographing their striking plumage. The male birds are unmistakable with their jet-black bodies and bright red and yellow shoulder patches called epaulets. When displaying, they will puff up these shoulder feathers and show off their vibrant colors.

To take photos, I rested my camera on a bean bag draped over my truck’s open window. This provided a stable shooting platform so I could use my telephoto lens to zoom in tight on the blackbird. The bird was quite cooperative, allowing me to fire off numerous shots as it sat upright on its perch. I captured some great images showcasing its features.

Red-winged Blackbirds are abundant across North America, with populations estimated at over 200 million. They thrive in wetland habitats like those found at Sequoyah. I feel lucky to have such amazing access to photograph these birds right in my own backyard. Though they are common, I never get tired of observing and photographing the Red-winged Blackbird’s beauty. I can’t wait to go back and see what other wildlife I might encounter at the refuge.

Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer

Gear Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon EF 800 mm f/11


  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: July 23, 2021 (9:28 A.M.)
  • Program Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11 (Fixed)
  • Shutter speed: 1/3200
  • ISO: 2500 (Auto)
  • Exposure Compensation: 0
  • Focal Length: 800 mm

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Red-winged Blackbird Territorial Display