It occurred to me as I was Googling "female red-winged blackbird," that it's funny how we indicate the gender of the female of a species but not the male's. It goes without saying when you share a sighting of a Red-winged Blackbird or a Baltimore Oriole that you're talking about the male. Why is that?
Is it because males tend to be more brightly-colored than females and therefore more exciting to observe?
Or is it because statistically birders observe more males than females? In my experience it seems males are more abundant and certainly more noticeable. They're very showy when they're demonstrating to attract mates or intimidate the competition and they also seem to be more active. They're always chasing each other around while the female calmly perches somewhere nearby, away from all the action, and certainly away from the observer's eye. I also think the female is also likely to be out of sight when she's sitting on her nest or foraging for food for her babies.
When you think of these reasons it makes a lot of sense that males are more likely to be observed. But really, the main reason I think males dominate list counts is because they're more thrilling to sight and certainly easier to pick out from their surroundings.
Of course, I'm only talking about observing with your eyes, not identifying by sound. That's a whole other world that I'm light years away from being part of- although I am trying very hard to work on my call/song identification skills. I recognize that a lot of birders make their IDs by sound and could easily ID a male-female exchange, but for the sake of my argument try to ignore that.
Another interesting gender issue is that when you're counting birds (at least for Project FeederWatch) if you see a dimorphic species (where the females and males look markedly different) you cannot count them as two birds unless you see both birds at the same time. Clearly if you see a bright red male cardinal visit your feeder, he flies away, and then an orange-ish female flies up you are looking at two different cardinals but the rules say no.
So females don't get the recognition they deserve in bird IDs but they do get called out when it comes to bird counts. It's a time when ID-ing a female is helpful but still doesn't count. Does anyone else think that's strange? I am sure the scientists have a very good reason for that, but from my naive perspective I think it's a little unfair.
After all that soap-boxing, here are my pictures of the Female Red-winged Blackbird I saw in Stiles and Hart yesterday: