Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sounds of Summer

Last week when I was filling a feeder at the very back of our yard, I heard the call of a returning Red-winged Blackbird. My heart skipped a quick beat, and I had to stop and listen twice to make sure I had heard what I thought I had heard. It was gray and dreary, my fingers hurt from the nip of cold through my leather gloves, and I was mucking through the mud in lovely red boots, so for me, the call was out of place.


For me, the Red-winged Blackbird’s call means summer. As a kid, I can remember baking out in the sun while playing wiffle ball or looking for crawdads under rocks in the creek and hearing that wonderful bird sound always around us. At the time, I didn’t know it was the call of a Red-winged Blackbird. To me it was just one of the early sounds of summer, and I liked it. To this day, the red wing’s call makes me happy. It can evoke the feeling of summer heat and summer freedom…open space, blue sky, and water.


One day last summer, Rick, Matty and I headed up to the Spring Valley Wildlife Area. It was blazing hot…the kind of heat that just absorbs into your skin and makes you feel good. Walking across the boardwalk through the marsh, male Red-winged Blackbirds were scattered throughout the reeds, heads thrown back, singing into the heat. That exact moment was so beautiful it is branded in my mind. I had Matty and Rick with me, the sun was warm, and my childhood sounds of summer were all around me, melting past and present together.

Last week, when the red wing sang briefly in my back yard, anticipation of summer and the nostalgia it often brings spiked in my heart. As a coincidence, that night, while doing his homework, Matty had to define the word nostalgia and come up with its antonym. He decided nostalgia was longing for the past, and its antonym would be longing for the future. After a few moments, the word “anticipation” popped in his head. I had to chuckle…with a Red-winged Blackbird in spring at my house, you can’t have one without the other!

14 comments:

Roy said...

Yup, I heard Redwings in the reeds down in the salt marsh by Gooseneck Cove this past weekend. Winter's winding down.

Snowbabies said...

Lovely looking bird, it's fascinating to see the cousins of our native birds.

Paul.

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
It is a wonderful bird with very nice colours on the wings. Funny you are speaking about summer. Here it is heavily snowing again and the wind is very strong...

Kallen305 said...

Such pretty photos! I can't wait to see the ones the nest across the street from me. I miss them so much

Shellmo said...

You captured such pretty photos of them! They are so interesting to watch - they loved hanging out in my lake reeds by the cabin last summer.

Steve B said...

Oh, yah, Spring is coming. Our Song Sparrow has started to sing again. Yesterday, I heard a Black-capped Chickadee singing. The Blue-jays have changed their calls and I heard a Flicker drumming. Won't be long now!

RuthieJ said...

I love red-winged blackbirds too. I'm lucky enough to have them in my backyard all summer. They nest in the tall grasses of the roadside right-of-way and eat seed from my feeders. I hope to start hearing their calls in a month (or less!).

Warren Baker said...

We have a bird that visits in summer, a Willow warbler. It's song does for me what your red winged blackbird does for you!

Heather said...

What a sweet post, Kelly. Thanks for sharing your memories with us. We were lucky to have a small grouping of Red-wings visit our feeders for a few weeks last spring. I hope they'll come around again this year!

Dave Lewis said...

Hi Kelly,
We have three more inches of snow up here, so far...
I think it may be awhile before the Red-wings make it up to visit. Hope springs eternal...
Dave

Kelly said...

Roy...but now they are saying we're getting snow again!

Paul...I feel the same. I love comparing the similar European and American species.

Chris...although, now they are predicting snow again and today it was 25 degrees F.

Kallen...you'll have to take pics of their nests!

Shelley...I would LOVE to have a cabin surrounded by nesting red wings. I can't wait to see your photos!!

Steve...for some reason, our song sparrow has gone missing. I need to listen and watch for him...and I have noticed the change in the Bluejays also!

Ruthie...their call is summer!! You'll have to take pics too...

Warren...I looked up the Willow warbler...nice!!

Heather...Thank you!!! The red wings visit our feeders too, but I haven't seen them nest anywhere close.

Dave...well, after this weekend it sounds like we will be back in the snow, but not nearly what you have!

The Early Birder said...

Loved the Red-winged Blackbird showing off its shoulder patch - This reminded me of large flocks seen roosting in reedbeds when I visited High Island, Texas a few years ago.

Kelly said...

Early Birder...I'd love to get back down to Texas. I was there about 10 years ago.

grammie g said...

Hi Kelley....Surely a good sign of spring.
I will be having a watch for them soon. The Sterling have been coming in groups now and first thing you know I start to see Red Wing among them !!
Wonderful to have these kinds of memeories!!