Saturday, May 24, 2014

Red-winged Blackbird - A Happy Harbinger of Spring

Red-winged Blackbird

The red-winged blackbird is a prosperous native American and happy harbinger of spring. Over 200 million strong, these gregarious creatures are the most common bird found on the continent. Their underrated beauty is distinguished by a simple palette reminiscent of a Mondrian. They're colored a glossy black but boldly decorated with shoulder patches of bright red and yellow.

About the time of year when water thaws and evening light lingers, speedy males swoop in from the south and establish compact territories in the surrounding wetlands. Streaky-brown females arrive a couple of days later and begin nest-building immediately. The basket-shaped dwellings are hidden between reeds just a few inches above the waterline.

The redwing spends most of the day perched high above a cattail kingdom singing his heart out to anyone who will listen. The familiar tune, played over and over again, announces his arrival and confirms boundaries that should never be crossed. The fearless, black bird will vigorously defend its territory, aggressively challenging all intruders no matter how small or large.

After a summer so full of activity and life you begin to take them for granted. In an instant they're gone. Dreary days of cold and darkness fill the empty void. The birds have dispersed to a better place - a mysterious land of peace and warmth. There, they reunite with family and friends in an enormous flock. Hopefully, if we're lucky, we'll see them again one day soon.

A happy harbinger of spring

The most common bird in North America

An underrated beauty

Perched in a cattail kingdom

Singing his heart out

The familiar tune is played over and over again

The redwing is a fearless defender

Hopefully, we'll see them again soon

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