They have that impatient sounding call. Unmistakable. Not a pretty voice. But it's kind of a pretty bird, the red-winged blackbird. The boys, anyway.
Traveling across Illinois, counting the red-winged blackbirds on alternate fenceposts. Hearing their calls. Seeing the flash of red and bits of yellow as they fly.
But today's story is about a feeder.
My friend Maggie is new to this birding thing. She got a feeder and put it up on her deck and waited for birds. None came, and then she learned she had a rat snake living under her deck eating baby birds. Her boys took care of that problem and then the birds decided her feeder looked less like a lure and more like a meal.
She lives close to a small river, backs up on woods, so she has far more diversity at her feeder than I do. Remember city: sparrow, robin, cardinal. I do get a few others: nuthatches and titmice (titmouses?), a couple varieties of finches, the winter juncos, and so forth.
She got a red-winged blackbird.
Who got very angry the day he showed up and she hadn't filled the feeder yet.
He walked back and forth on the deck in front of the door, calling at her. He attacked the window screens. She sent me a video of this menacing stalker who obviously knew who she was, where the food came from, and was expressing his anger and disappointment in the most violent and obvious ways he could.
She had one of her sons fill the feeder, but that red-winged blackbird was still mad at her.
I visited last week and I saw the evidence of his tantrum, the holes pecked in a window screen. And while we sat at her kitchen table, I heard his call. I turned and there he was. I had learned recently that red-winged blackbirds, when they are young, hide their red patches so they aren't seen as too aggressive to older, more dominant red-winged blackbirds.
This bird had no problem flashing his bright wing patches at me. Looked at us sitting inside and called right at us.
Ate from the feeder and flew off to a cottonwood tree some distance away.
I glanced over at her and she gave me a "see what I mean!" look.
"He's one scary bird," I agreed with her.