Another sign of Spring: the Red-winged Blackbirds are back. Walking along the north edge of the park, I heard the familiar tweeting of a male blackbird, and soon spotted him atop one of the dried fennel plants. Is this just another scout? In past years, seeing an early solo blackbird has raised my expectations that the breeding colony that takes over the northwest corner of the park would land here in a day or two — only to face a wait of weeks before the rest of the winged tribe arrived. This morning, however, the tweeting of the first male met with an answer by a female, and as I slowly penetrated deeper into the fennel forest, I saw another male, and another, and then at least three females. The breeding colony seems to have begun for real.
More than two dozen posts on this blog cover these birds. I’ve posted more blackbird pictures than you’ll ever want to see. Nonetheless, like an addict, I will take still more blackbird photos this year and post them here. I also hope to dive a bit more into the voluminous literature on these birds, among the most studied of any winged species.
Most of the other species that we see here in the winter are migrants who breed elsewhere. The blackbirds are just the opposite. They’re migrants who come here to breed. They’ll leave right around the summer solstice. Until then, the northwest corner of the park is their playground and nursery.
P.S. February 15. The blackbirds fooled me again. Two days after I posted the above, there was not a blackbird visible or audible anywhere in the park. The small flock that I documented were either unattached to a larger colony, or were scouts who decided, after a look-see, that the time was not ripe. I keep checking the area and will post if/when I see them again. I would be distraught if they did not return at all.