Red-winged Blackbird

In the spring, the sound of the male Red-winged blackbird echoes out across grassy fields and marshy areas as he noisily defends his territory, puffing up and proudly displaying his ornate red and yellow shoulder patches.

The song of the streaky-brown female can also be heard as she moves stealthily through tall grass in search of food and weaving material for her nest.  Her dull color helps to provide camouflage as she sits in her nest, located close to the ground.

“In spring more mortal singers than belong
To any one place cover us with song.
Thrush, bluebird, blackbird, sparrow, and robin throng.”
~Robert Frost

Perching along the levee

In May, the sounds of a variety of birds hidden in the tall, dense grass along the Mississippi levee fill the air.  Seemingly out of nowhere, a bird will flutter through the air and alight on top of a tall weed stalk.  It is interesting to slowly ride along the levee road, occasionally stopping to watch in silence, to see what different types of birds can be spotted.

male Bobolink

male Indigo bunting

male Dickcissel

immature male Orchard Oriole

Eastern Kingbird

male and female Red-winged blackbirds

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.”  ~Robert Lynd

Red-winged blackbirds

Flying among the tall grass along the levee were the red-winged blackbirds.  Stopping to perch atop tall stems, the male, with his bright shoulder patches, would occasionally puff up his wings and belt out a loud song.

The female, the less showy of the two with her streaked brown feathers, was quieter and more likely to be overlooked.

“Blackbirds are the cellos of the deep farms.”  ~Anne Stevenson

A drive along the levee

A leisurely drive along the Mississippi levee at this time of the year never disappoints.  One of my favorite sightings this month was several Ruby-throated hummingbirds darting in and out among the red clover.  We sat and watched their playful activity for some time.  No photos, but clear, beautiful images in my mind.

“Memory … is the diary that we all carry around with us.”  ~Oscar Wilde

Red-Winged Blackbirds

A male and female Red-winged blackbird sitting in a marshy area near the Mississippi River.

The marsh, to him who enters it in a receptive mood, holds, besides mosquitoes and stagnation, melody, the mystery of unknown waters, and the sweetness of Nature undisturbed by man.  ~ Charles William Beebe