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Home » Santa Clarita News » Environment » SCV Outdoor Report » SCV Outdoor Report: The Young And The Restless

SCV Outdoor Report: The Young And The Restless

By Wendy Langhans

This male Red-winged blackbird is singing to establish his territory.

“Chek…chek…chek…oak-a-leeee”. I hear the male red-winged blackbirds before I actually seethem.  Their metallic-sounding calls are unmistakable. You can hear an example here:

Ah- there they are – some are sitting on the clusters of tallreeds, while others are perched on the branches of nearbytrees.  As I watch them, I see the males are evenly spaced andjockeying for position.   One bird flies to the perch ofanother, driving away the previous occupant.  Later the firstbird returns, this time driving the invading bird away.  Inbetween sorties they pose and posture and brag, like schoolboys ona playground.  And each “oak-a-leeee” issynchronized with a fluffing out of their red and yellow shoulderpatches, which resemble nothing so much as brightly coloredepaulets on uniforms.

There’s a reason for all this posturing.  It’s thebeginning of mating season – and the males are establishing anddefending their territories.  Nest building occurs betweenMarch and May in the wetlands of the Santa Clara River watershedand other irrigated areas in our valley.  And those males whostake out the best territory get the females – maybe.

Red-winged blackbirds are polygamous, with some males having up to15 nesting females in their territory.  But just because afemale builds a nest in his territory doesn’t meanshe’s monogamous – some studies show that ¼ to½ of the young in a territory are fathered by other rovingmales.  What a soap opera!  No wonder the males are sobusy chasing each other away!

Upcoming Outdoor Events:  (Remember,heavy rain cancels MRCA-sponsored events)

Late winter is a good time to visit Vasquez Rocks, which is ownedand operated by the County of Los Angeles.  
Directions:  heading east on Hwy 14, take the exit at AguaDulce Canyon Road and turn left at the off ramp. The road makes anabrupt right turn and later an abrupt left turn, but the parkentrance is straight ahead at 10700 W. Escondido Canyon Road. For more information call (661) 268-0840.

- Saturday March 1, 8:30 am at East Canyon. Searchand Rescue Dog Demonstration.  Join MRCA Ranger Jodi Thomasand Caba, her search dog, for a SAR dog team demonstration. There will also be a discussion of how not to get lost in thewilderness (and what to do if you are).  The demonstrationwill be followed by a 6 mile RT hike.

For directions and a trail map, clickhere.

Sponsored by the Community Hiking Club.

- Saturdays, March 8 and 22, and every Wednesday, 8:00am
.  Trail Maintenance Volunteers at TowsleyCanyon.
Come join our trail maintenance volunteers for camaraderie and aheart-thumping workout.  For more information call SteveLoerger at 661-291-1565 or

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and ConservationAuthority.

- Saturday March 8, 4:00-6:00 am at TowsleyCanyon.  Twilight Hike.  Join us on an easy hiketo see how the canyon makes the transition from day to night. 

For directions and a trail map, click here.

Sponsored by the Mountains Recreation and ConservationAuthority.

You can listen to stories like this every Friday morning at 7:10a.m. on “The Hike Report”, brought to you by your hometown radiostation KHTS (AM1220) and by the Mountains Recreation andConservation Authority.

For the complete MRCA hike and activity schedule and for trailmaps, go to

SCV Outdoor Report: The Young And The Restless

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