Another avian return

February 25, 2018  •  1 Comment

Red-winged Blackbird, Palmer'sRed-winged Blackbird, Palmer's

One of the signature sounds of spring's impending arrival is the "oonk-a-ree" song of the Red-winged Blackbird, a call that I heard for the first time this year today as I walked past the marshy farm pond. The show-stopping males are announcing their arrivals from winter refuges down south, and the guys are noisy and quite handsome, with glossy black bodies and a striking, mostly scarlet epaulet. The females, not surprisingly, are drab and feathered for hiding during the nesting season, and I haven't spotted any yet. The guys, however, are here a few days earlier than normal, so maybe their potential mates are not quite ready to give up the warmth... or, at least, to make their presences known. The Native Americans knew these birds well, and among the many descriptive names they had for these exceedingly common creatures is this one, in Ojibwa: memiskondinimaanganeshiinh. It means, according to Wikipedia, "a bird with a very red damn-little shoulder-blade." It's pretty obvious that "damn-little" expands quite a bit when the Redwings are singing to lay claim to a territory or to try to sell their suitability as mates. Right now, the guys are just tuning up. Soon enough, we'll see whether she's buying.



In my observations, the ladies usually arrive a week or so later than the guys.
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