This Red-winged Blackbird male looks to be another one of the scouts that checks out the park from time to time to see if the females have arrived yet. The first scouting party came in mid-January (see “Hot to Trot” Jan. 19) and left a day or two later. There may have been some other scouts in the interval that I missed. This one appeared to be by himself. He let out just the occasional “Here I am” whistle but had no response. This is quite a slim bird, with its epaulets mostly covered up while at rest. I wonder if he’s not getting enough to eat. There’s still a few fennel seeds available, so he should be OK.
I’m concerned that the nesting season will be late this year. The fennel forest where the females build nests seems slow in developing fresh new growth this year. The birds won’t nest in last year’s dry stalks. They want the dense green cover that the fresh growth provides. And the fresh greens draw the bugs that the females need to feed their hatchlings. Well, once the fennel starts to sprout, it moves quite fast. We’ll see.