The Poets’ Birds: Red-Winged Blackbird

 

Like the thrilling call of a returning osprey, the song of the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) announces an undeniable turn of season. Hear the song, and it’s not difficult to find the bird: defending territory or seeking a mate by displaying his brilliant red shoulder patches atop any convenient cornstalk, cattail, or branch.

The song, once heard, lingers in memory: evocative, freighted with unexpected meaning. For Welsh poet R.S.Thomas, a song similar in so many ways to the landscape of Wales — a little rough, a bit dark — gave rise to a simple and yet enjoyable poem.

Sometimes compared to the American poet Robert Frost, Thomas is less philosophical and less sanguine about the realities of rural life. Still, there’s little question that he absorbed those realities and transformed them in his own way, much as he imagines the blackbird’s song as a particularly pleasing alchemy.

It seems wrong that out of this bird,
Black, bold, a suggestion of dark
Places about it, there yet should come
Such rich music, as though the notes’
Ore were changed to a rare metal
At one touch of that bright bill.
You have heard it often, alone at your desk
In a green April, your mind drawn
Away from its work by sweet disturbance
Of the mild evening outside your room.
A slow singer, but loading each phrase
With history’s overtones, love, joy
And grief learned by his dark tribe
In other orchards and passed on
Instinctively as they are now,
But fresh always with new tears.
                                          “A Blackbird, Singing”  ~  R.S. Thomas

 

Comments always are welcome.
Click here for more information on poet R.S. Thomas.

151 thoughts on “The Poets’ Birds: Red-Winged Blackbird

    1. That’s wonderful, Beth. There’s something especially cheering about a bird that’s both handsome and a good singer. Of course, some don’t think its song is especially musical, but I like it.

    1. I enjoy finding poems from different areas of the world that offer different or unusual perspectives on common experiences. I’m glad you enjoyed it; I think the bird’s song makes a nice pairing with your buds.

    1. I once had a teacher who said, “The first step in understanding a poem is taking it in. Don’t try explaining it until you’ve absorbed it.” I don’t always manage to follow her advice, but I always remember it.

  1. Had to go find a YouTube video to refresh myself on what the red winged blackbird song’s like. Don’t hear them often where I live and I love Robert Frost’s description of its cry.

    1. I assumed they’d be common there, Jean, but I saw by the maps that they aren’t year-round residents in your area. I’m sure that makes a difference. We have some birds that breed here, but don’t stay all year long, and they can be hard to spot. I grew up seeing these clinging to Iowa cornstalks; now, I see them at the refuges, perched on cattails, but the song’s the same.

    1. Aren’t they beautiful? One of the things I love about them is their bold calls that match their bold color scheme. When they’re around, we know it!

    1. Spring isn’t only pastels. I love cherry blossoms and violets as much as anyone, but a red-winged blackbird or a red tulip can be immensely cheering.

      1. And I as well – besides, while blooming fruit trees come much later, hearing a Red-Wing is a sure sign that Spring has (finally!) arrived and never fails to put a smile on my face.

  2. A lovely poem, “…your mind drawn Away from its work by sweet disturbance.” Yes. That’s also a great shot. I never get the under the wing color, except in blur.

    1. I like that line, too. I do wish my mockingbird weren’t quite so effective at drawing me away from sleep with its sweet disturbance, but it’s spring! I love this image. Even though I’ve seen those colorful patches often enough, and have known that they’re feathers, I’ve never quite grasped that they can be fluffed just like any other feather.

  3. Of course, the blackbird that Thomas was lauding was the European Blackbird, Turdus merula, a thrush, a member of a totally different family from a Red-winged Blackbird which is an icterid. And for my money, European Blackbird is one of the finest songsters in all the avian world, superior to my ears than the much vaunted Nightingale. Having said that, the song from the marsh of the first Red-winged Blackbird of spring is the most joyous sound I can imagine, and sends me into raptures every year.

    1. All these similarities and differences are interesting, especially in a world where people call grackles and starlings ‘blackbirds.’ Now I know why the red-winged blackbird can sound so much like a grackle; they’re both icterids.

      The thought of a blackbird rivaling a nightingale intrigued me, so I went to listen to its song. Imagine my surprise when I found it sounded much like my favorite American robin, which also is a thrush belonging to the genus Turdus. The sound of a robin’s song evokes the mornings and evenings of childhood; it always was singing when I woke up, and when I was put to bed.

      Thanks for sending me off on my little exploration. I’m still happy to pair the poem and the red-winged blackbird, but poetic license and scientific knowledge don’t have to be opposed.

  4. I googled. One sample is an hour long so I turned up the volume and enjoyed. I find it quite musical. The little notes at the end are distinctive enough I might even remember. Good poem also. Thanks.

    1. Isn’t YouTube great? I found an hour-long recording of robin songs, and every now and then I’ll turn it on — especially in the evening — and remember their way of bidding goodbye to the day. Cardinals sing late, too, but the blackbirds seem to prefer sleeping in a bit, and then singing through the day.

  5. I do not see many red-winged blackbirds here for some reason. I think they enjoy the farmland more than nearer the cities. Terrific post, Linda. Lovely poem and of course your words were beautiful.

    1. I’ve never seen one around my neighborhood either, John. Occasionally one will show up around the urban pocket prairies, but to really enjoy them, I have to head out of town. They’re especially thick around the maize fields, or around the marshes where cattails are common. If they’re around, they certainly make their presence known with their calls and songs.

    1. Thanks, Biff! It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these ‘poets’ birds’ posts, but when I found this red-winged blackbird, there was no question it was time. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  6. What a stunning bird! His colors are so striking. I’ve seen several of them — typically outside of neighborhoods, where they have freedom to roam. Their song is quite distinctive as the poet notes. Thanks for a great capture, Linda!

    1. Hooray! It always makes me happy when I find something that flourishes in your neighborhood, too, Debbie. They are such attractive birds. The treat for me with this one was seeing those colored feathers all fluffed up. I usually see them neat and tidy: all smoothed down. This was a treat.

  7. I adore the call of the red-winged blackbird. Unlike many bird calls, I can hear their calls in my head, evocative of a time I can’t really remember. Where was I that their call embedded in my memory.

    1. Your experience with blackbird calls seems much like mine with robin song. I can call it up in my mind in an instant, and I’m back in Iowa, watching the day fade and enjoying that gentle, musical accompaniment to its leaving. Your experience — hearing the call without knowing the when or where of its source — is a good reminder that the worlds we choose to live in are important. So often, they become a part of us without our knowledge or consent.

  8. I was joyful to see one driving home to Austin a few days ago. I don’t see them at home here. I don’t think they’re big on cities.
    There was a nesting pair, for years and years, in one particular dogleg of a country road where I grew up. They were on the line above the blackberry brambles every time we drove by.
    When I moved away, my mom would sometimes tell me she drove by “my birds.” Then one visit back there, they were gone.
    Years past and the dogleg was empty. The blackberries had been removed, the ditch sprayed, the crop changed.
    And then, years passed some more, and the blackberries had returned and flitting past the elbow of the turn, their offspring perhaps.

    1. I love that story. The creatures that surround us have memories, and I’m convinced those memories get passed down from one generation to the next, in some mysterious way.

      Although the red-winged blackbirds don’t live around here, bluejays do, and for ten years it was predictable as could be: in September or October they would disappear, and no longer come for their peanuts. Then, around February, they’d fly in again. After a while, they’d begin carrying them off, making dozens of trips a day, and I knew: it wouldn’t be long until they’d be bringing the next generation around, showing them where the good stuff was.

  9. I love these birds and their songs. Whenever we canoe down the river that starts at our lake (usually at least once each summer), I look forward to seeing and hearing them in the cattails, and I’m almost never disappointed. The delightful outing wouldn’t be the same without them.

    1. Sights, sounds, smells — any of of them can evoke the totality of an experience. There’s no birdsong at sea, but the sound of a sailboat slicing through the water is equally unforgettable; I suppose a paddle can provide the same sort of pleasure. Bird calls differ between day and night, but there’s nothing better than a blackbird — or a song about a blackbird, for that matter.

      1. Oh thanks so much to both of you! As suddenly I hear the whisper of Water slipping past as Paddle breaks the surface. Trailing droplets in the rippled sign of your passing. Tears of joyous memory…

    1. That would be blackbird heaven. Of course, I think wild rice is heavenly, too, so the birds and I would have that in common. I think kayaking is heavenly, for that matter, but I don’t do it any more. I can’t get over the thought of all those alligators lurking around out of sight. As far as I know, no kayaker’s been eaten, but still… I’ll listen to the birds from the bank.

      1. Luckily, we don’t have alligators here, yet. But I have seen some massive turtles under my kayak–and I wouldn’t want to tangle with any of them, though I’m pretty sure I’d be able to outswim them if I capsized

        1. I hadn’t even thought of that. Most of the turtles I see are red sliders, and I think the largest of those I’ve encountered has been about a foot in diameter. There are snapping turtles, though, and I know I wouldn’t want to come across one of those!

    1. Isn’t it wonderful how widespread those birds are? So many who’ve commented either remember them or have them in the neighborhood to enjoy. I’m glad I picked one of your favorites, Lavinia — and I’m glad you enjoyed the poem!

  10. The red on the bird’s wings is fantastic! I love listening to our blackbirds in the evening. (In the UK.) And thank you for introducing me to R.S. Thomas – it’s a great poem!

      1. Thanks for the link – I like that poem too. We have a grapevine in the garden and every autumn I get to enjoy watching the blackbirds feasting on the grapes. (There’s enough for us to have some too.)

        1. I’ve never thought of blackbirds as fruit-eaters, but I just learned that all blackbirds are omnivorous. Grains, insects, fruits — they’ll give them all a try!

          1. I love having them in the garden, so I’m glad to be able to supply them with dinner – or maybe it’s dessert!

  11. There is this playa lake down near where I bank that once upon a time had a glorious stand of cattails. A great big wad of them. In the spring, the red-winged blackbirds would stake it out and play the “mine are bigger/better/sexier than yours -no, they’re not” game. That was back in the day when I had an SLR camera with a telephoto lens. Half the time, I got so wrapped up in looking at them close up through the big gun lens that I’d forget to take the picture. Then the city cut the cattails down. They said it was a fire hazard. Couldn’t have been much of one. It was right next door to a fire station. Sigh.

    1. That’s quite a variation on the ‘here come the mowers’ theme. Not only were the birds’ cattails next to a fire station, I’d assume that the playa lake was water-filled at least some of the time. Even though the water level probably varies a good bit, it’s still a fact that cattails ilke water, and ‘lake’ certainly suggests water. Ah, well. Our not to reason why, and all that — except that in this case it was the cattails that died.

    1. Aren’t those calls wonderful? Down in the marshes, I’m always surprised by how loud and clear they are — and how hard it can be to find the birds, tucked into the reeds and cattails.

    1. I read that this is one species that’s not only holding its own, but actually increasing in numbers. That’s wonderful, and it’s even more wonderful that so many parts of the country get to enjoy this marvelous bird.

      Speaking of birds, I saw your comment somewhere that you were going to be doing some mowing today. This week, I happened across a mower for one of our refuges out in a field with a big hay mower. As he worked, I noticed hawks galore swooping and diving, and I finally figured it out. Just as birds will follow a lawn mower to snatch up grasshoppers and grubs, those hawks were enjoying a different kind of ‘carry-out’ dinner from those fields — probably mice and other small mammals.

  12. When I lived in Iowa, I saw lots of red-winged black birds (even had a few angrily chase me as I rode my bike down a rural road, probably because they had nest nearby), but we don’t have many where I live now. They are beautiful birds. I had no idea they sang so well!

    1. I smiled at your story of being chased. Blackbirds are like mockingbirds and bluejays in that regard. If they consider you a threat, they’re more than willing to take action. Just yesterday, I watched bluejays chasing off a crow that had been messing around in ‘their’ tree, and that crow never came back.

      I didn’t realize — or have forgotten – that you lived in Iowa. I grew up in Newton, and spent my college years in the state before moving on. I hope your time there was as good as mine.

      1. I actually just went to college there, at Cornell in Mt. Vernon. But I did enjoy my time there very much, and go back often, as my husband is from the Cedar Rapids area. Iowa is a lovely state in so many ways! The only season I didn’t like was Winter…..

        1. Ah, yes. The lovely drifts, the clean landscape — the frozen door locks, the dead batteries, the shoveling. I enjoyed winter when I was younger, and always was ice skating or sledding, but all these decades down the road, warm is better.

  13. What a lovely evocative poem! I had never heard of red winged blackbirds until we moved to Ohio (we have them in NC, but they don’t hang out on my usual routes). I loved driving down a long straight stretch of road in eastern Ohio & seeing them dot the fence posts.

    1. They aren’t at all a shy bird, are they? I sometimes think they enjoy showing off for us. Of course, those males really are interested in getting the girl-birds and fending off competitors, but still — if you’ve got a voice like that, and those flashy colors, of course you’d want to show them off!

  14. Looking some more information about this bird it appears to be the most abundant bird in the Americas and flocks of over a million are not uncommon. The law of averages would make that their song be well known and possibly heard by almost everyone. Not me, as we don’t have them in Australia, not in the wild anyway.
    Such lovely colours.

    1. You’re right, Gerard. Even in the farthest reaches of the U.S., where the birds aren’t present throughout the year, they still arrive for the breeding season, which means everyone gets to hear their songs at one time or another. I don’t remember seeing such large flocks of this bird, but that’s probably because they’re year-round residents here rather than migrants. Now, the grackles are a different matter. When they flock up, it’s a scene right out of Hitchcock.

      1. Funny you should say that Linda, because I don’t recall ever seeing flocks of Red-Wings either, but Starlings on the other hand? They not only flock up in Fall, but also weigh down the power lines between amazing displays of group aerobatics: )

        1. And I don’t remember seeing flocks of starlings. They’re always around, especially in the marinas, where they find every sort of nook and cranny for nest-building, and I love listening to their songs, but by the time I start seeing them, they’ve dispersed.

  15. Very nice photo of the red wing. I have always liked this bird. It does have a lovely voice and is easily recognized. I have not seen one in years because they are not a bird of the city, at least that is my thought about only seeing them out in the country.

    1. I’m sure you’re right that they prefer the fields, Yvonne. I don’t remember seeing them in urban areas, either, apart from the occasional pocket prairie or pond where cattails grow. Now, a cornfield? That’s a different matter. They like to perch up high, which cattails and cornstalks allow, and they do love their seeds.

    1. Even though there are so many at the refuges, I’ve managed very, very few decent photos of them, and almost none show that brilliant wing color. You’re right about how quickly they move, and tracking them down by sound is almost impossible. How they fly through those thickets of cattails and reeds I don’t know, but they surely have honed their skills!

  16. I love:

    “And grief learned by his dark tribe
    In other orchards and passed on
    Instinctively as they are now,
    But fresh always with new tears.”

    As always, there’s so much to learn from your blog. When I stayed in Central Florida, I saw many Red-Winged Blackbirds, but for some reason they were extremely skittish. I was not able to get as single image of one. So I salute you for this one and the poet’s inspiration.

    1. I found that passage touching, too. It reminded me of the time I found grackle parents grieving over the babe they lost when a storm blew their nest out of a palm tree. It still pains me to remember that.

      My new hunch about the red-winged male is that they’re easier to photograph at the beginning of mating season, when showing off is the name of the game. Because they like to perch high while singing, and will sing for some time, the window of opportunity stays open longer. I’m getting better at using the car as a blind, too. I took this photo through the lowered passenger side window.

  17. It’s a terrific poem. I liked the part “…were changed to a rare metal/ At one touch of that bright bill,” because I’ve always thought they had a metallic, but not unpleasant, quality to their singing. (The Wallace Stevens one “didn’t quite fit the bill”? I’m worried Steve S. has infected you with the fondness for puns!) They always remind me of oldtime soldiers’ uniforms, with colored facings or fancy epaulets.

    1. Ha! Long before I knew Steve, I had a father whose fondness for punning was legendary. We used to sit at the dinner table and play word games, while my mother rolled her eyes and tried to get us to eat our vegetables. I’ll confess that I missed that one about not fitting the bill — good for you, for picking up on it.

      You’re right about the metallic sound of the blackbird’s song. It’s not quite old screen door, but there’s a little squeaky hinge to it. There’s a professional videographer who does wonderful recordings of birds; his red-winged blackbird is great. It not only captures the sound beautifully, it shows the fluffing of those epaulets.

      1. The bird maps show them living in New York state year around, except for the Adirondacks. We’re supposed to be the northern end of their year-round habitat, but I sure don’t think you see them very often in the winter time, or at all. So when I hear them calling, it’s another sign of spring.

        1. Re New York State being at “The Northern edge of their habitat”, perhaps in the U.S. Robert but, luckily for us Canadians, birds don’t recognise political delineation; )

    1. I especially enjoyed the poem. There are so many wonderful poets in the world, and posts like these are a great excuse to go roaming about, finding a new one to share. Who knows? Some day I may see a peahen like Peanut strutting across my lawn, and then I can go looking for a peacock poem!

  18. For us, the return of the Red-winged Blackbirds along with the accompanying Grackles, Cowbirds, and Killdeers, signals Spring. Robins get the credit, but there are small numbers of them overwintering but not of the blackbirds. A shot I have never been able to photograph but is not uncommon is of a male red-wing atop a cattail singing as steam leaves with the notes during an early spring morning.

    Very nice shot with those epaulets fluffed and displaying.

    1. I’ve seen an image like you described — the song and the steam combined. I can’t remember who posted the photo — I think it might have been Mike Powell. I’ll have to go look. Whoever it was, I remember their excitement. It was deserved. I was darned pleased with this one — not least because I managed it through the passenger side window of the car.

      Robins overwintering in your area surprises me. When I think of your winters, I think of all that ice and snow you photograph, and can’t imagine a poor robin finding a thawed-out worm to eat. Have the blackbirds and such shown up there yet? My guess is that they have — I hope so.

        1. That’s really interesting. I wonder if our Iowa winters actually were more ‘wintery’ than yours? I don’t remember there being anything around for robins to eat during that time. Of course, back then I wasn’t much curious about them. I just knew that when the robins arrived, spring was around the corner.

      1. Yes, the blackbirds and their traveling companions are all back now. Windows are a bird photographer’s rolling blind. Deb answered you question. The numbers are not great so they are able to find small bits of fruit.

        1. Here’s a question I I couldn’t find an answer for with a quick search — were the flowers called wakerobins because of an association with spring robins-the-birds?

            1. What I always forget is that there’s a European robin, too, and that ours actually is a different genus. I suppose ours got the name because of that red breast: so similar to the European one.

    1. They really do have personalities, don’t they? And they’re quite bold, like the bluejays and mockingbirds. I had a friend whose cats suffered one year because a bluejay would come down and try to pull out little tufts of fur while the cat was lounging — she presumed for nest building. Why not? It would make a cozy lining for a nest!

    1. If you haven’t already heard them, I hope you do soon. But I suspect they’re around by now — happy spring! And, again — so good to know you’re still well, and still creating.

  19. I haven’t seen a red-winged blackbird in I can’t remember when. They were all over the place when I was growing up. I guess they don’t visit my yard and I haven’t managed to be elswhere at the right time to spot one.

    I suspect part of the reason I don’t see them is how much of our locality has changed from rural and marshlands to suburbia, shopping malls, parking lots, etc.

    I get my blackbird ‘fix’ by watching the Cornell Sapsucker Woods feeder cam while eating lunch at work.

    1. I really enjoy that Sapsucker Woods cam. The last time I went over to Wild Birds Unlimited to pick up some seed, they had it on their huge tv, and it was quite something to see. Now that I have so many birds coming around here, I don’t listen to it quite as much; there are plenty of cardinals and doves to listen to at night. But when summer arrives in full, and it’s too hot to keep the house open, it’ll be back to the cam.

      I’m sure you’re right that the red-winged blackbirds have sought greener pastures — or at least seedier and weedier ones. I’ve always thought of them as a country bird, because of their love of grain fields. Now, I most often find them around marshy areas with cattails, and they’re such fun to hear.

  20. A very attractive bird — don’t think I’ve ever seen one before but the poem movingly tells his story.

    1. They’re wonderful birds. They aren’t as companionable as a robin or as pleasing to listen to as a cardinal, but they’re saucy and bold, and never afraid to let you know they’re around. I hope you can see them some day — listen for a call that sounds like an old-fashioned screen door opening!

  21. “… loading each phrase/With history’s overtones…” I will sleep on that tonight. What a rich image! I love poets who can use creation as a mirror so that we can see ourselves, but still in a way that really is true to the red-winged blackbird, in this case. Thank you for this.

    1. That really is the best kind of nature poetry, isn’t it? Too abstract, too metaphorical, and a nature-based poem can seem a little stiff, a little detached from the reality that originally gave rise to it. Too ‘pretty’ and sweet, and nature disappears in a different way. I’m glad you enjoyed this one; I surely did.

    1. My first thought was, “Red-winged blackbirds in the middle of Chicago?” Then, I remembered what the Lurie Garden looks like, and it made perfect sense. If I were a red-winged blackbird, I’d be happy to live there, too. And what fun that they come to your feeders!

  22. What a gorgeous bird. I didn’t even know there was something like a red-winged blackbird. We only have black blackbirds. Its song is for me epitome of summer for me. But, alas, I don’t know the song of the red-winged blackbird.

    1. This one’s song isn’t as musical as your blackbird’s, but it certainly is recognizable. Here’s a a good recording of it.. When a whole flock of them begin a calling competition, it can make quite a racket! And they are beautiful, especially when they flash those red and yellow epaulets.

  23. its work by sweet disturbance

    I like that line. I haven’t seen a red-winged blackbird in years, but when I do in the future, and certainly I will again, I’ll think of that line. I do like any creature who is quietly showy while making a polite ruckus.

    1. There’s nothing more entertaining to watch than a polite ruckus. I mostly don’t have what it takes to pull one off, but I have on the rare occasion, and they’re as much fun to engage in as to watch. I think you’re right — the red-winged blackbird’s ability to do it on a daily basis is part of his charm.

  24. “A little rough, a bit dark” – that’s the red wing male’s cry. It’s a bit harsh, but it means that spring is on the way. I hear them quite early, in late winter, just as the spring thaw starts. What a fine capture of the brilliant flash of red on the male’s epaulet.

    1. I really am enjoying the reports of all you northerners about the spring arrival of these birds. For me, they’ve always been a summer bird, and I’ve never thought much about their comings and goings: I suppose because they were year-round in Iowa and down here. I loved seeing those epaulets fluffed out. Of course I’ve known they are feathers, but they never seemed feathery to me; they just were patches of color. Not here!

  25. Forgot if I’ve left a comment in this post or not. Just want to note we do have red-winged blackbirds, plenty of them, mostly near the Pond. Usually solitary, perching on bare tree branches or cattails, as in your photo here, unlike the description Annie Dillard has in her book. Thanks for sharing the lovely poem.

    1. How well I remember that passage, and that the tree was an Osage orange. We have those trees, as well as the red-winged blackbirds, but I’ve not yet been granted a vision like Dillard’s! I’m glad to know you have these, too. They’re ever so much more widespread than I realized; it’s nice to be able to share something that’s part of so many readers’ lives — not to mention the reflections of a good but somewhat lesser-known poet.

      1. Your memory serves you well! Yes that’s the exact passage I have in mind and which I quoted in my post: Birding with Annie Dillard.

  26. Hearing the red-winged blackbirds return is always such a glad thing, isn’t it? Your photo of the male is marvelous! You really captured him.

    1. Even though I’ve always admired those bold colors, and have known that they really are feathers, it was such fun to be able to see them fluffed up. It’s another of those instances where the camera captures something that my eye can’t see — or at least hadn’t, up to this point! I’m so glad you like the photo, because I suspect you know this bird as well as anyone.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed seeing the bird, and reading the poem I selected to accompany it. I know that many professional bird photographers with big, fast lenses can capture views like this on a regular basis, but for me? A good bit of luck was involved, and I’m glad of it!

    1. I hope we all can follow the example of the song and “pack up all our cares and woes” this year. I don’t necessarily want to say bye-bye to the blackbird, but it’s time for healing of every sort!

    1. Thank you, Myra. Even as the world continues to roil, the simple song of a bird can pierce through human noise, and its beauty serve as a bit of a balm.

  27. The rich melody of the red-winged blackbird song is something I have tried many times to describe. So unique and halting. This poem by Thomas does an excellent job of describing this delightful earthly phenomenon. Thank you, Linda.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the poem, Jet. It seems there’s often a tendency for so-called ‘nature poems’ to become a little too sweet, a bit too precious. But this one seemed just right to me: not an exact description of the bird, but a nice capturing of its essence.

      I’m so happy to see you. I hope your recovery’s going well, and that you’re at a point where you can be outdoors a bit. That helps every sort of condition!

    1. Thanks so much, Brenda. I recognized your avatar, but couldn’t remember where I’ve ‘seen’ you. I looked at comments on your blog, and saw we have several bloggers in common — what fun to see the connections. It was great to see this bird, too — I’m glad you enjoyed the poem and image combination.

  28. I’m very familiar with Red-winged Blackbirds, and thanks to you, I now know a wonderful poem about them. It’s funny to hear them in our yard, where they frequent the feeders, as the closest pond is at least one mile away. I’m transported to the marsh whenever they vocalize.

    1. I never knew that they frequented marshes until I moved to Texas. I grew up with flocks of them in Iowa cornfields, clinging to the top of stalks rather than cattails, but singing just as beautifully.

      1. They do get around!
        I’m happy to report that I saw my first juvenile RWBB this morning in some cattails. It still had down sticking out from its head and a relatively large and gape (feed me!).

  29. Coming through Idaho in June I was reminded that was where I was introduced to the red winged blackbird. I don’t remember them in Southern California where I grew up. Then I moved I Iowa and your comment about seeing them on cornstalks, reminded me once again where I had become familiar with their distinctive call and flash of red.

    1. They’re wonderful birds: for me, as evocative of summer as robins. We had meadow larks, too, but I liked the rough call of the blackbirds. After the fall harvest, they would gather in the fields in huge flocks before the stalks were cut and mown in. With the corn dried, they were easy to see, and admire.

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