As my dog and I stepped out the front door this morning for our early walk, I was immediately reminded of the haunting phrase from Bob Dylan's great song Girl from the North Country: "to keep her from the howlin' winds." I know this is Minnesota. I know we get snow 11 out the 12 months a year. I still feel a nasty, negative, emotional jolt when we go from 70F to snow cover and tree-top swirling wind gusts within ten days or two weeks. If there is such a thing as weather-induced whiplash, I suffer from it. At least the dog(s) and I have a warm house to return to. Birds can migrate south again. Plants and flowers have to just stay rooted and take whatever Mother Nature dishes out. Spring becomes a "pass - fail" system.
March 23 last year, was there April snow?
Photo by J. Harrington
This year again we have a red-winged blackbird at our feeders. The folks at Audubon, which, by the way, has an impressive photo or Mr. Red-winged, have this to say about blackbirds' feeding behavior:
"Forages mostly while walking on ground; also sometimes up in shrubs and trees. Outside the breeding season, usually forages in flocks, often associated with other blackbirds and starlings."while the Cornell "All About Birds" web site writes:
"Red-winged Blackbirds may come to your yard for mixed grains and seeds, particularly during migration. Spread grain or seed on the ground as well, since this is where Red-winged Blackbirds prefer to feed."
red-winged blackbird at feeder
Photo by J. Harrington
"Mostly" and "preferred" lead me to believe that blackbirds at our feeders are unusual but not rare, sort of like April snowstorms in Minnesota and the ability of the plants and animals we enjoy here in the North Country to survive despite our occasional relapses in our progression toward Summer. If conditions become too unpleasant, we human inhabitants can stay indoors and read our way through:
The blackbird sings atthe frontier of his music.The branch where he sat
marks the brink of doubt,is the outpost of his realm,edge from which to rout
encroachers with trillsand melismatic runs sur-passing earthbound skills.
It sounds like ardor,it sounds like joy. We are gladhere at the border
where he signs the airwith his invisible staves,“Trespassers beware”—
Song as survival—a kind of pure music whichwe cannot rival.
Thanks for visiting. Come again when you can.
Please be kind to each other while you can.