My grandfather was a farmer who used to get up early to irrigate in his field, and when he’d come in for breakfast he’d talk about the meadowlarks and red-wing blackbirds he’d seen. Their song reminds me of him when I hear them singing in the Springtime.
I have a favorite spot I often pass when I go biking in the country west of town where I always look forward to seeing (and hearing) Red-winged blackbirds perched on cattails, trilling their sweet summer songs.
A male will defend his territory and attract a mate by perching on a high stalk and singing. They fluff their feathers and lift the leading edge of their wing so the red shoulder patches are prominent. Red-winged blackbirds are dimorphic, that is to say, the males and females have a completely different appearance. Females have mottled, heavily banded plumage lacking the distinguishing red and yellow shoulders the species is known for.
One for sorrow, two for joy,
Three for a girl, four for a boy,
Five for silver, six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told.
This traditional rhyme has its origins in superstitions connected with magpies. These intelligent black and white birds – closely related to crows – were considered bad omens in some cultures dating at least as far back as the 1700’s. According to some variations of the rhyme, the number of magpies one sees determines whether they will have bad luck.